Rainbow Veterans of Canada and the LGBT Purge Fund, joined by Minister Petitpas Taylor honoured Canadian soldiers of the First World War

News release

10 April 2024 – Vimy, France – Veterans Affairs Canada

Throughout history, members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community have made important military contributions, paving the way for others who continue to do so today. Regrettably, a legacy of discrimination has meant most of those men, women and gender diverse people stories have been buried and excluded from our collective memory. Fortunately, recent research has brought some of these inspiring—and heartbreaking—stories to light.

Earlier this year, based on research conducted at Veterans Affairs Canada and with the support of the LGBT Purge Fund, Sarah Worthman, a Newfoundland and Labrador-based researcher, published a report which chronicles the stories of 35 brave young individuals who served in the First World War and the persecution they faced.

In the light of this work, Veterans Affairs Canada recognized the importance of sharing these stories and raising awareness by supporting a 2SLGBTQI+ delegation to visit First World War sites in France and Belgium. From April 6-9, delegates from Rainbow Veterans of Canada and the LGBT Purge followed in the footsteps of brave Canadian soldiers, among them Ross Hamilton and Frederick Hardy, both of whom experienced harsh discrimination based on their sexuality. The delegation concluded their journey at a ceremony commemorating the 107th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, where Frederick Hardy’s name is etched in stone.

In addition to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the delegation visited the Hill 70 Memorial that commemorates the battle during which Frederick Hardy died, as well as the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in France. They also paid their respects at key sites in Belgium, including the Passchendaele Canadian Memorial, St. Julien Canadian Memorial, the John McCrae Memorial, and the Menin Gate Memorial. Throughout the visit, the delegation shared stories of 2SLGBTQI+ soldiers who served in the First World War.

The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and Mr. Paul Ledwell, Deputy Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada, joined the delegation in Belgium on April 6 to participate in these commemorative events.

In addition to this memorial program, Minister Petitpas Taylor visited commemorative sites and attended meetings with her international counterparts in the United Kingdom and Belgium. 


“More than a century ago, over 650,000 men and women from our country served in uniform during the First World War. At the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, the engraved names of the 11,285 Canadians who died in France and have no known grave stand as a reminder of their sacrifice. The legacy of these service members includes members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community, whose contributions have been hidden for too long. By bringing these stories to light, we are contributing to seeing that their contributions to our history, too, are never forgotten.”

Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence 

"The sacrifice and bravery of Canadians during the First World War are commemorated as an integral part of Canada's history. Among those who made significant sacrifices were many 2SLGBTQI+ Canadians, whose stories may be less-known, but whose contributions were equally great. Rainbow Veterans of Canada is honoured to stand alongside other Veterans and allies to pay tribute to their memory and contributions.”

Todd Ross, Rainbow Veterans of Canada

Quick facts

  • The Canadian National Vimy Memorial honours all Canadians who served during the First World War. The Memorial bears the names of those who died in France with no known grave. It is located at the site of Canada’s victory during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

  • Rainbow Veterans of Canada is a not-for-profit organization that provides a supportive, safe space for Veterans impacted by the LGBT Purge and Veterans who identify as 2SLGBTQI+. They also educate and advocate for the rights, benefits and recognition their members deserve.

Associated links


Media Relations
Veterans Affairs Canada

Isabelle Arseneau
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs

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