Carberry Legion excited for in-person ceremony

·4 min read

CARBERRY— Royal Canadian Legion Branch 153 Carberry members are eagerly awaiting the return to in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Carberry Legion president Fokko Buurma said Remembrance Day is a time to honour all the people who have died at war fighting for Canadians’ freedom.

“They paid the ultimate sacrifice for all of us to have our freedom,” Buurma said.

Last year, it was challenging marking Remembrance Day as the legion was unable to host a public ceremony. Veterans were honoured in 2020 with preset wreaths and a small, quick service, he said, but it was a different experience without members of the public present.

Typically, Remembrance Day ceremonies are held at the Carberry community hall and often have more than 300 people attend. Buurma said the legion is hoping to see similar numbers this year.

The legion can hold a traditional ceremony under current public health measures, Legion Sergeant-at-Arms Bob Dane said, and they are hoping it will feel like a normal event for the community.

Buurma originally hails from the northern part of Germany and was part of a group of NATO troops that came to CFB Shilo in 1986.

In Germany, military service was mandatory for 15 months, Buurma said, and after his mandatory time with the military, he decided to sign up and stay with the forces. Buurma spent 10 years with the German military — six and a half were based in Shilo.

After his time in Shilo, he decided to stay in Manitoba and came to call Carberry home.

When he moved to Carberry, he became involved with the legion and has been a member now for 23 years, working as president for the last three years.

Dane served in the Canadian Air Force for 27 years. He first joined the air force when he was 17 years old.

“My father was service, and I thought I would give it a try. Me and a couple of buddies went to Winnipeg and enlisted,” Dane said.

Dane was a construction engineer while in the air force, spending his time travelling the world and connecting “with a lot of good people in all sorts of countries.”

“If I could do it again, I would do it again. It was really good,” Dane said.

Dane said he appreciates how military members are not always deployed around the world for their service — many are hard at work in Canada, helping to make communities better.

This service to Canadians has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said, because troops have been deployed across the country to serve different areas.

“Look at the floods, forest fires — we’ve dealt with everything. It’s great; it gets the public to see their troops at home doing something,” Dane said.

He hopes Canadians will take time on Nov. 11 to honour their hard-won sacrifices and service.

He encouraged people to attend a ceremony if they can or take time at home at 11:11 a.m. to stop and honour the men and women who have served their country.

Dane added he appreciates how school divisions are ensuring these memories are kept alive for students because they, in turn, can carry the stories of bravery and sacrifice forward.

Buurma praised the schools in Carberry for their planned Remembrance Day events. Legion members attend the ceremony each year, he said, although the junior school will feature a virtual ceremony instead of in-person.

There are many critical moments in Canadian military history to highlight, Dane said, and he hopes students and the general public can appreciate how these sacrifices ripple out, giving us the life we have today.

“It’s the ultimate sacrifice of the members, today’s members, past members that are at standby at any given time. Whatever happens in the world, they are ready to go,” Buurma said.

He added as time progresses, it’s important to reflect on these sacrifices because there are fewer veterans from the first and second world wars to tell their stories.

Dane said it now lies in the hands of Canadians to ensure their memories live on.

They are fortunate at the Carberry Legion, Buurma said, because they have a community that supports them. The legion currently has around 150 members, he said, and only a handful are military veterans.

“The rest of the people are associate members, they’re incredible ... When we need help, the phone rings right away,” Dane said.

He added it is an exciting time at the legion because they reopened their doors to the public on Oct. 14 after a year of being closed.

During the closure, the legion worked to refresh its building, he said, and the only reason they were able to take on these projects was because of the community support.

“We’re very fortunate,” Dane said.

» ckemp@brandonsun.com

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Chelsea Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Brandon Sun

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