Lest we forget: Remembrance Day in Jasper, 2020

·4 min read

More than 100 people took Jasper’s Remembrance Day ceremony, held outdoors this year at the cenotaph.

“I thought it turned out amazingly. I was so impressed,” said Sue Henderson, manager of the Jasper Legion.

“The weather was good, and people took the time out of their day to attend.”

Greg Key, vice president of the Jasper Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, emceed the ceremony. He welcomed guests who included Gerald Soroka, MP for Yellowhead, serving and past members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Jasper RCMP and Jasper Fire Department, and the mothers of serving members – Ruby Tiotio, Linda Black, Rea Weatherhill.

“We remember the more than 2.3 million Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Key said.

After O Canada was played, Soroka honoured the men and women who died while in service, those who returned as well as the ones who are serving.

To the people who attended, he said, “To me, it is more meaningful that you have taken the time to be here in the cold to attend the service instead of watching it on TV, to honour the ones who have served and are serving to protect our civil rights and freedoms.”

Alan Fehr, superintendent of Jasper National Park, read a message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Mayor of Jasper, Richard Ireland, read the Jasper honour roll and encouraged people to “ever protect the freedoms for which they fought”.

Mark Young, Indigenous relations manager for Jasper National Park, who represented the Indigenous People’s Circle of Jasper, gave an Indigenous blessing and Padre David Prowse gave thanks to those who have served and continue to. He recalled visiting graveyards of fallen soldiers with his family years ago and the impact it had on them.

Gage LeBlanc read In Flanders Fields, followed by Legion sergeant-at-arms, D.J. (Klem) Klymchuk with the Act of Remembrance. The Last Post was played, followed by two minutes of silence and the Rouse, a bugle call. Klymchuk then recited the Commitment to Remember.

Those who laid wreaths included Soroka, Long, Ireland, Neil Forsyth, master warrant officer (MWO), representative of the Canadian Armed Forces; Joe Elliott, retired air engineer mechanic, Royal Navy, in memory of the First and Second World Wars; Dong Han, in memory of the Korean War; Keith Henderson (retired, service officer, Jasper Legion), in memory of Afghanistan; Key, in memory of peacekeepers; Scott Sherlow, retired firefighter captain, in memory of first responders; Tiotio, Black, Weatherhill, mothers of veterans; Sue Henderson, mothers of Silver Cross recipients; Greg Van Tighem, Legion representative, fire chief and Legion president.

The ceremony closed with the playing of the Royal anthem, God Save the Queen.

For the first time ever, an Indigenous component was included in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Jasper.

It came about after Mark Young, Indigenous People’s Circle of Jasper and indigenous relations manager forJasper National Park, and Joe Urie, went to the cenotaph on Nov. 8 to observe National Indigenous Veterans Day.

“We both thought it was important to go to the Legion to talk with the folks there about including an Indigenous component for Nov. 11,” Young said in an email. “The Legion leadership were receptive to the inclusion.”

On Nov. 11, Urie held Young’s grandfather shell and sweetgrass and tobacco smudge as Young spoke. Young acknowledged Jasper National Park is located in Treaty 6 and 8 as well as the traditional lands of the Beaver, Cree, Ojibway, Shuswap, Stoney, and Métis.

“We mention this to honour and be thankful for these territories to building our park, province and nation,” Young said.

Young said a prayer and gave a blessing as he held his eagle feather.

He noted the inclusion “is very fitting to the concept of our nation”.

“Since settlers first entered what is now Canada, Indigenous peoples have survived colonization, intermingled with settlers and have tried to be part of the nation state, including serving in the armed forces,” he said.

“First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples and governments deserve to be as foundational as the institutions and processes like the national anthem, Christian prayer and federal/provincial/municipal leadership in ceremonies such as Remembrance Day. It defines who we are and reflects our true national character.”

Sue Henderson, manager of the Jasper Legion, said, “I think it’s important they’re part of it.

“It is part of our history in Canada. They did go to war and they’re part of Canada, and that should be remembered on Remembrance Day.”

Joanne McQuarrie, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Jasper Fitzhugh