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Yellowknife gets set to remember

Canadian soldiers who paid the ultimate price as well as other military members, past and present, are to be honoured this weekend with a number of events to mark Remembrance Day.

Leading Air Cadet Matthew Broadis, left, and Corporal (army) Matthew Wiebe stand vigil at the Cenotaph on Tuesday evening.
NNSL file photo

Ceremonies begin Friday night with the annual overnight vigil at the cenotaph and a candle lighting ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery.

Cadets from both the 2837 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps as well as 825 Royal Canadian Air Cadets will brave the cold in teams of two and stand vigil outside at the cenotaph in front of RCMP headquarters on Veterans Way overnight. The vigil begins at 6:00 pm. At about 7:30 pm other cadets will accompany members of the Royal Canadian Legion Vincent Massey Branch 164 to Lakeview Cemetery Field of Honour to pay their respects to veterans with a candle lighting ceremony. The vigil is a decades old tradition in Yellowknife.

Army cadets commanding officer Capt. Sharon Low said the length of time the young cadets stand vigil will depend upon the weather.

“Could be 10 minutes – could be an hour. They do this to remember. Standing at a vigil gives the cadets that silent reflection of what it was for a soldier to be at war. They are cold. They are uncomfortable. They're in their uniform. They're representing their country. It's the symbolic gesture,” Low said. “They are the next generation. They are the leaders now.”

Saturday – Remembrance Day itself - begins with a parade just after 10am. It forms outside the Legion at the corner of Franklin Ave. and 48t St. and proceeds down Franklin Avenue to either 52 or 53 St., then up to Veteran's Way and then over to the cenotaph in front of the RCMP detachment. At about 11am there will be an outdoor wreath laying ceremony at the cenotaph. That will be followed by a march down Veteran's Way to 48 St. over to 51 Ave. and on to the annual indoor ceremony at St. Patrick's High gymnasium. After that event, the parade will reform and move to the legion for what's known as the Honour Roll Call.

Military members from Joint Task Force North (JTFN), 440 Transport Squadron, reservists from the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, Canadian Rangers, army and air force cadets as well as RCMP officers will all be represented at tomorrow's ceremonies.

Brig. Gen. Mike Nixon, JTFN commander stated that the day is an opportunity to pause and remember the sacrifices made by Canadian soldiers. He quoted from a poem called “For the Fallen” by Laurence Binyon.

“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we shall remember them.”

Blaine Kelly, president of the Yellowknife Legion, said the Remembrance Day events offer an opportunity for Yellowknife residents – civilian members of the public - to express their appreciation to soldiers for all they have done to protect our way of life.

“We don't want to forget our fallen – people who have served for us – sacrificed their lives – as well as the ones who are still serving and those who have retired from the military,” Kelly said. “It's very important that we educate people and show them the value of remembering out soldiers.”

Kelly said that the vigil and the candle lighting ceremony held last night was an important exercise in educating the cadets – males and females aged 12-18 – about the sacrifices soldiers have made.

“They need to know what people have gone through for our country. They need to be able to carry that torch on once we are gone,” Kelly said. “It's 100 per cent important to make sure we keep the spirit of Remembrance Day alive.”

Insp. Matt Peggs, Yellowknife RCMP detachment commander said the Mounties are proud to be involved in the day's ceremonies.

“The RCMP has been involved in wars and conflicts since the ...Royal Northwest Mounted Police (RNWMP), as we were known back then, fought in the Boer War in South Africa from 1899-1902. (Almost 3,000) RNWMP members served in World War I. In December of 1939, the No.1 Provost Company was formed of RCMP members and (members) served in all Canadian theatres of operations during World War II,” Peggs stated in an email. To this day, we continue to work alongside the personnel of the Canadian Forces.”

Many businesses including both liquor stores and some banks will close for Remembrance Day. Liquor stories reopen Monday while most government offices are closed. That includes the downtown Post Office but the post office in Shoppers Drug Mart will be open Monday.