Protecting Canada’s Ocean War Graves

Under Canadian law, there are currently no protections for the remains of Canada’s sailors and merchant mariners lost at sea from the First and Second World Wars.

For the past 5 years, Merchant Navy Captain (ret’d) and Second World War Veteran, Paul Bender, has been carrying the torch to ensure the remains of Canada’s sailors and merchant mariners are given the same protection and respect as the remains of our soldiers and aviators buried on land. Captain Bender estimates that there are remains of approximately 1,200 of Canadian sailors and merchant mariners lying at rest in 9 wrecks in Canadian, international and foreign waters. None of them have been afforded the necessary protection to discourage salvaging and desecration.

Project Naval Distinction calls on the government and Parliament of Canada to:

  1. issue a policy statement affirming the government of Canada’s intention to provide legal protection for Canada’s ocean war graves and make a formal request to the government of the United Kingdom to protect Canadian ocean war graves in UK waters;
  2. use any available legislative and executive powers to provide immediate protection for Canada’s ocean war graves, as an intermediate measure until stand-alone legislation can be enacted; and
  3. enact stand-alone legislation to provide legal protection for Canada’s ocean war graves, ensuring the punishment for desecration is in line with the punishment for desecration of land-based war graves.

Our Executive Director, Patrick White, was privileged to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities on February 7th, 2018 and March 19th, 2018 to add our support to closing an egregious gap in Canadian law.

Project Naval Distinction is proud to offer our full support to Captain Bender in the fight to provide legal protection for Canada’s ocean war graves.