Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the “Come From Away” forum at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre Monday evening.
©Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his federal cabinet started a three-day visit to Newfoundland and Labrador by attending a “Come From Away” forum Monday evening at the St. John’s Arts and Culture Centre in honour of the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001.
Cabinet meetings will take place in St. John’s Tuesday and Wednesday.
Monday was the 16th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorists attacks in the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people, including 24 Canadians.
Monday night’s forum was named after the Broadway hit musical “Come From Away” that tells the story of about 7,000 stranded airline passengers who were welcomed at Gander and surrounding small towns when planes were diverted to Gander after air space closed in the United States that day.
The town’s people quickly set up makeshift shelters in the local schools and other buildings, invited passengers into their homes and made life-long friends in the process.
Monday night’s event was also attended by representatives from the Canadian Armed Forces, the Red Cross and the Salvation Army, as well as first responders from organizations across Newfoundland and Labrador, including firefighters, police officers and paramedics.
Trudeau issued a statement honouring the bravery of the first responders and countless others who put themselves in harm’s way on 9-11, remembering the “lives taken so cruelly” and offering sympathy to loved ones and others who still struggle with the trauma caused by the attacks.
“We remember those who knowingly risked their lives to save others — who rushed into the rubble, who climbed the stairs of the collapsing towers, who stormed the cockpit of a hijacked plane,” Trudeau said. “Their acts of heroism and sacrifice live on, through the women and men they saved, and the stories from which we continue to draw strength.
“Even in the darkness of 9-11, humanity’s capacity for goodness shone through. We continue to be inspired by the people of Gander, Halifax, Vancouver and other Canadian cities who opened their hearts and their homes to stranded air travellers and crews from around the world in the aftermath of these attacks.
“On this National Day of Service, I also want to thank those who continue to fight on the front lines against terrorism — women and men in uniform, the intelligence community, diplomats, and security and law enforcement professionals. They work tirelessly to keep us safe at home and abroad.”