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Martin Loken, Published September 10 2011

Canada stands as partner in fight against terrorism

Ten years ago, on Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist acts in New York City and near Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 innocent people from more than 90 countries, including 24 from Canada.

Our hearts go out to all those who suffered on that terrible day and during the weeks, months and years that have followed. We remember those who perished and the families left behind. We think of the survivors of the attacks and pause to reflect on the sacrifices made by first responders and those who assisted in the recovery.

As family, friends and neighbors, we are reminded this week of the collective strength, unity and resilience of the American people and the integrity of our shared way of life. Built on a foundation of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law – our common core values continue to guide our two nations.

Bismarck State College is hosting a symposium this week focusing on the impact of Sept. 11 on the Heartland. And, on Sunday, Americans and Canadians will gather at the International Peace Garden to pay respects to those who lost their lives 10 years ago.

I am humbled and honored to represent Canada at these two events and am grateful for the opportunity to highlight the continued cooperation between our two countries to prevent terrorism, secure our economic partnership and foster prosperity.

On Sept. 11, 2001, and during the days that followed, the enduring bonds of friendship that connect Canada and the United States were demonstrated to the world. Immediately following the 9/11 attacks, the people of Gander, Newfoundland, provided refuge to more than 6,500 stranded air travelers. When U.S. airspace was shut down, U.S.-bound aircraft were immediately diverted to Gander and other Canadian towns and cities, where stranded passengers were welcomed and comforted. With Gander’s residents opening their hearts and homes to new friends in trouble, this small town in Newfoundland exemplified the full depth of friendship between our two countries.

In this spirit, Canada and the United States have worked shoulder to shoulder in the decade since to combat terrorism worldwide; notably, in Afghanistan. Our soldiers, aid workers, diplomats and trainers have stood together in one of the country’s most dangerous regions and 158 Canadians gave their lives in the effort to bring stability to Afghanistan. Despite substantial sacrifice, their efforts have led to significant progress within Afghanistan’s borders.

While terrorism continues to pose threats around the world, comprehensive actions undertaken within our respective borders, bilaterally, and alongside the wider international community have strengthened our national and collective security. Enhanced cooperation, coordination and shared priorities in the areas of terrorism prevention, intervention and response mean greater security for the citizens of our two great nations and point the way forward in the continuing struggle against terrorism.

As Prime Minister Stephen Harper said, “a threat to the United States is a threat to Canada” adding that “Canada has no friends among America’s enemies. And America has no better friend than Canada.”

The events of Sept. 11, 2001, were a reminder that North America is not immune to terrorism. They also remind us that ordinary men and women are capable of extraordinary courage.

On this solemn anniversary, I would like to reaffirm Canada’s commitment to stand together with our American friends and allies against the threat of global terrorism, and to uphold our two great nations’ shared principles. At this time of remembrance, and in the years ahead, Canadians will continue to keep the victims and families of Sept. 11 in our thoughts and prayers.

Loken is consul general of the Consulate General of Canada in Minneapolis. His office represents Canada in North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota and promotes trade, engages citizens and decision-makers on matters of shared interest, and assists Canadians in the region.