Canadians gathered to honour soldiers who died in Afghanistan during the unveiling of the Afghanistan Repatriation Memorial in Trenton, Ont., Saturday.

Dignitaries and government officials including Afghan Ambassador to Canada Barna Karimi and Minister of Veteran Affairs Steven Blaney were in attendance.

During the ceremony, Blaney spoke of the importance of the memorial.

“Why we are here today is to tell you that we have not forgotten,” he said.

Also in attendance were family members of soldiers killed in Afghanistan.

Kathy Bulger, mother of Cpl. Nick Bulger, told CTV Toronto she was thankful to see the memorial, which has been funded entirely by donations.

“As Nick’s mom I remember every day,” she said. “It’s three-and-a-half years after and people still remember. And this proves it today,” she said.

The memorial, situated on the banks of the Bay of Quinte in Bain Park, is close to the country’s largest air force base, Canadian Forces Base Trenton.

It features two large granite maple leaves. The first maple leaf, in red, is inscribed with the Canadian Forces emblem and provincial shields. The second maple leaf, in black, is inscribed with the names of the 158 soldiers who have died in Afghanistan. The maple leaves are flanked by two Canadian flags and two granite benches where visitors may sit.

After the memorial was unveiled, Christine Caswell searched the black maple leaf for her stepson’s name.

“All the people that are here and who’ve worked so hard is a wonderful tribute,” she said. “And all those names are wonderful people.”

The memorial is located near where repatriation ceremonies for fallen soldiers begin.

The motorcade for all returning soldiers who’ve been killed in action starts at CFB Trenton, continues on Highway 401 and ends in Toronto.

Thousands of Canadians salute the passing motorcades from overpasses along the stretch of Highway 401 dubbed “Highway of Heroes.”

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Ashley Rowe