National Silver cross Mother
The Royal Canadian Legion
The Memorial Cross, more often referred to as the Silver Cross, was first authorized on December 1st, 1919. It is given as a memento of personal loss and sacrifice for widows and mothers of Canadian sailors, aviators and soldiers who died for their country during the war. Today, the Legion chooses the National Silver Cross Mother among nominations made by Legion Provincial Commands and individuals to represent the mothers of Canada at the National Remembrance Day Ceremony in Ottawa. During her tenure, which starts on November 1st, the National Silver Cross Mother fulfills other official functions.
2021 National Silver Cross Mother – Mrs. Josée Simard As the National Silver Cross Mother, Mrs. Simard places a wreath at the National War Memorial on November 11th. She does this on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or a daughter in the military service of Canada. Throughout the year until October 2022, she will also be called upon to perform other duties honouring the Fallen from all conflicts. Biography
Mrs. Josée Simard Josée Simard grew up with a brother and three sisters in a scenic part of northern Québec’s Bas-Saint-Laurent region known as Les Méchins. She describes her early childhood as happy and carefree. Over the years, she has worked extensively in public-facing roles for a variety of organizations such as the RFRM in Québec (Regroupement des Femmes de la région de Matane), helping families in need.
Josée describes her daughter Karine Blais as someone with a great zest for life. She was well-known and well-liked in her community, growing up with good friends and participating in many community sports and activities. Karine was close to her brother Billy and her stepbrother and sister, Joey and Marylin. Josée said they all liked to hike in the woods, bike ride, and just spend time enjoying the outdoors together.
Karine was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan as a Trooper in the Army when she died. Her mother remembers her deep passion for her life in the Armed Forces.
Josée looks upon her role as National Silver Cross Mother as a great honour and a way to honour her daughter Karine. She believes Canada’s military Veterans must never be abandoned, and we must ensure we look after them well. She wants other Silver Cross Mothers and families to stay hopeful and remain strong. Josée would also like to spread a message of peace and harmony, not war. In her free time, Josée enjoys reading and taking walks, and hunting with her husband, Marco Sergerie.
Karine Blais Karine Blais was a Trooper in the Canadian Army, an enthusiastic soldier who knew what she wanted to do at a young age.
On January 4th, 1988, she was born in Cowansville, Québec, to her mother Josée and father Gino Blais. She spent much of her young life with her mother’s second husband, Marco, who was extremely supportive, and they were close over the years.
Karine died in April 2009 alongside four soldiers who were seriously wounded when their armoured vehicle struck a roadside bomb near Kandahar, Afghanistan. She was just two weeks into her first tour of duty. A member of the 12th Armoured Regiment of Canada, based at CFB Valcartier in Quebec, Karine was serving with the 2nd Battalion, Royal 22nd Regiment Battle Group.
Karine’s mother, Josée, recalls her daughter talking about using grenades for the first time, saying she was always fueled by the challenges and adventures of serving her country.
In 2006, Karine wrote about why she wanted to be part of the Canadian Armed Forces. She reflected upon joining the Sea Cadets at age 12. “It was at this time that the idea came to me, to become a soldier,” she recalled. Over the following years, she joined a hockey league, worked in a restaurant and in a grocery store. She finished high school at Polyvalente de Matane, later applying to study social work. Ultimately, she joined the Canadian Armed Forces.
Self-described as a disciplined person who was sure of herself and what she could offer, Karine acknowledged she was someone who enjoyed team activities and new challenges.
On the cusp of her new journey and while completing leadership training, she wrote: “I want to give 110% more than what’s required to finish leadership school.” A fitting sentiment to describe her work ethic, later echoed by those around her.
Past recipients Every year, Legion Provincial Commands and individuals forward nominations to select a National Silver Cross Mother. A selection committee reviews these nominations at Dominion Command. One mother is chosen for the year, which begins on November 1st until October 31st of the following year.
Photo credit: Veterans Affairs Canada