Remembering Canadian veterans wounded or killed in past conflicts has always the centre focus of Remembrance Day, but the battle to keep public memory alive will be especially important this year, says Legion president Don Asher.

This will the be first year that the city will be without a World War II veteran after the passing of Dusty Miller in July. This year will also mark the 100th year since the signing of the Armistice to end World War I on Nov. 18, 1918.

Simon Whitehouse/NNSL photo
Don Asher, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Yellowknife Branch, stands at the army cadet hall on Ellesmere Drive, Nov. 7. Asher, who was elected to the role in January, is looking forward to building on public memory and honouring veterans who have sacrificed in foreign conflicts.

Since he was elected president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164, Asher says he has made it his central duty to keep the spirit alive of those who have given their lives for the country so that Canadians can live free.

Asher’s most significant move to date is moving the Legion to 4511 Franklin Avenue from its 48 Street location. Asher, 80, says he drove the change of the Legion locations, including purchasing and refurbishing the new spot, because he felt that veterans have not been adequately remembered in Yellowknife in recent years where the condition of artifacts like uniforms have not been displayed with proper care.
For him, public memory of the sacrifices made in past conflicts is personal.

“The biggest thing that upset me the most was that I had four uncles that died in (World War II) and my dad made it home beat up pretty bad,” said Asher. “But I feel that a lot of people are totally forgetting about the people who died for the freedoms we that we have today. That is why everybody wants to come to Canada – we are the best place in the world to be.”
It is on this theme that Asher hopes the public will reflect over the weekend.

Members of the Legion will begin as early as Friday the set-up staging at the Weledeh/St. Patrick High School gymnasium for Sunday’s ceremony, however formal events take place Saturday night.
At 6 p.m. there will be a ceremony at the Cenotaph where the 2837 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Army Cadet Corps and the 825 Air Cadets Squadron will begin a 12-hour motionless vigil until 6 a.m. on Sunday. This is done every year to commemorate veterans who have died for the country.
The cadets will then meet for group breakfast at JTFN.

“We are one of the only cadet corps that stands all night,” said Captain Sharon Low, commanding officer of the cadet corps.
Saturday night will also include a delegation from the Legion who will travel to Lakeview Cemetery to lay wreaths, poppies and candle-lights on the graves of veterans who have died in Yellowknife at 7 p.m.

“There are quite a few in the cemetery’s field of honour, but there are some outside which we will locate and put flags, and poppies and wreaths on as well,” Asher said.

On Sunday morning a parade to the Cenotaph for an outdoor service will begin at Joint Task Force North at 9:50 a.m. where participants will travel to the Legion branch on Franklin Avenue. A number of parade participants, including the Scouts and Girl Guides, will join the parade, before continuing along Franklin Avenue to the Royal Bank corner and around again to the Cenotaph.
A march will then take place to the Weledeh/St. Patrick High School gymnasium where the indoor service will occur at 11 a.m. The ceremony will feature a two minute silence, prayers, speaking engagements by dignitaries and the laying of wreaths by community organizations, including the Yellowknife RCMP, the Royal Canadian Armed Forces, the Army and Air Cadets, the Mayor of Yellowknife, and Premier Bob McLeod.
Guests will be invited back to the Legion for food and refreshments following the ceremony.
“It will be pretty much the same (as past years) although the parade route will be a little bit different because we moved the location of the Legion this year,” Asher said.

Army cadet 50th anniversary

One of the biggest features of this year’s ceremony will be the marking of the 50th anniversary of the 2837 Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Army Cadet Corps.

Jo Ann Martin, who is a former a commanding officer of the corps and now a member of the Legion who facilitates activities between the two groups, says the anniversary is an important one.

“Fifty years for some organizations in Yellowknife is huge just because we are a transient town,” said Martin. “It is something we wanted to showcase and the City of Yellowknife is 50. I thought it was important because there is a lot of history.”

Martin says the cadets will be holding an anniversary reunion at the Legion on Saturday, Nov. 24 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The event will allow past members to share memories of the organizations over the years.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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