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Barrhead and Fort Assiniboine remember the fallen

Ceremonies held in wake of COVID pandemic remain more subdued, though no less solemn

Hundreds braved the chilly weather on Nov. 11 to pay respects to fallen soldiers during the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Barrhead and Fort Assiniboine.  

Barrhead’s event began with a march of the Colour Guard from the Royal Canadian Legion to the Barrhead Memorial Park, followed by the singing of “Oh Canada” and a prayer.  

The attendees included a contingent of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members from CFB Edmonton. One of those members, Master Cpl. Fergus Ducharme, read a prepared statement to the crowd, noting that he was happy to be part of the event. 

In addition to their efforts in aiding Canadians during natural disasters, he recalled how members of the Canadian Armed Forces have served courageously in two World Wars, the Korean War and the Afghanistan campaign, as well as countless missions around the globe.  

“Being part of Canada’s military is a difficult and dangerous job, but we do it because we want to make a difference, because we want to protect Canadian values and our way of life, and because we want to make the world a better place,” Ducharme said.  

“That is why on days like today, we gather to remember. We gather to learn about the strength and sacrifices of Canadian veterans throughout history, right up until today.  

“I hope you will take the opportunity to reflect on the role that our military has played and continues to play in making Canada the country it is today.”  

Jasmine Eisener then read out the poem “In Flander’s Fields” and a band student from Barrhead Composite High School played the Last Post.  

The ceremony ended with the laying of wreaths by representatives of local municipalities, service clubs and non-profit organizations, youth groups and businesses. A lunch was then hosted at the Legion. 

Fort Assiniboine

Close to 100 people packed into the Fort Assiniboine Royal Canadian Legion for the first time in three years as part of the hamlet's Remembrance Day ceremony. 

In 2020 and 2021, the hamlet held a much more subdued ceremony at the cenotaph limited to about 20 people. 

Similar to the Barrhead ceremony, the Fort Assiniboine event began with the parade of the colour guard, followed by the singing of O' Canada, before an opening address by Legion president Dale Kluin. 

"On Nov. 11, we gather together to thank our armed forces personnel 'to say thank you for what they have done to protect our freedom. We do it once a year. We need to do it more often," he said. "When you look at what (Vladimir Putin) is doing in Ukraine ... we need to thank and remember our veterans every day because without their efforts, who knows where we would be today." 

United Church pastor Roger Manuel told the audience that Remembrance Day was a day to contemplate what Canadian Armed Forces soldiers serving in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, Afghanistan, and peacekeeping missions endured. 

"It is also a time to mourn the lives unlived and the sacrifices made," he said. "Because if we forget the human cost, then we surely will be tempted again to pull away the threats of nationalism, division, war-building, fascism, sectarianism, religious persecution and ethnic cleansing that lead to war." 

Manuel added it is also a time to remember the sacrifices of family and community members who freely joined the armed forces, many of them giving their lives. 

“We remember the names of the soldiers on the cenotaph here in Fort Assiniboine, and we wonder what their loss meant to this community.” 

However, he said, the act of remembrance of the sacrifices of our Canadian Armed Forces veterans, if it is to hold meaning, "must be paid forward." 

"We begin with ourselves, accepting the prejudices, our self-righteous, our dated bubbles that exclude and maintain stereotypes. These are the ingredients of fear that combust into fears. The incivility of our conversations on social media, our sometimes inappropriate coffee shop conversations," he said. "Those that misuse the word freedom to forward selfish agendas that in the light of Remembrance Day present as shallow and disingenuous - this is not the legacy or spirit of true remembrance."