Young soldier died just two weeks into Afghanistan tour
The Royal Canadian Legion has named this year’s National Silver Cross Mother, Mme Josée Simard of Les Méchins, Québec. She will place a wreath at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Remembrance Day and will represent all Silver Cross Mothers across Canada until October 2022.
“The symbolism of her role resonates deeply within us all,” says Bruce Julian, Dominion President of The Royal Canadian Legion. “Mme Simard’s bravery and willingness to share her family’s story reminds us of the incredible sacrifices made on our behalf and we must always Remember.”
Mme Simard’s daughter, Cpl. Karine Blais was a Trooper in the Royal Canadian Army. She is remembered as an energetic person, who was passionate about the Canadian Armed Forces. She was born on January 4, 1988 in Cowansville, QC to her mother Josée and father Gino Blais. Karine died on April 13, 2009 when the armoured vehicle she was traveling in struck a roadside bomb near Kandahar, Afghanistan.
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.
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 says. Over the following years, she joined a hockey league, worked in a restaurant and in a grocery store. She finished her 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 per cent more than what’s required to finish leadership school.” A fitting sentiment to describe her work ethic, later echoed by those around her.
When the National Silver Cross Mother places a wreath on November 11, she will do so on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or daughter in action, or over the course of normal duty.
From November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022, Mme Simard will share her story publicly, and attend various events honouring Canada’s fallen.
The Memorial Cross – more commonly referred to as the Silver Cross – was introduced on December 1, 1919. It is a symbol of personal loss and sacrifice on behalf of widows and mothers who lose a child on active duty, or whose death is later attributed to such duty.
The Royal Canadian Legion receives nominations for the National Silver Cross Mother role from Provincial Commands and individual Canadians each year. The final recipient is chosen by a Dominion Command selection committee.