Wakaw Legion Commemorates November 11

Preparations for Remembrance Day begin long before the event occurs. Leading up to Remembrance Day, the Legion Poppy Committee takes inventory to ensure that there are poppies and wreaths on hand ready to commence the annual Poppy Campaign. Legion members of Branch #195 manned businesses around Wakaw on Saturdays October 29th and November 5th, while other members delivered poppy trays and wreaths to locations in St. Louis, Bellevue, One Arrow, Cudworth, and around Wakaw and then returned to pick them up at the end of the campaign.

Wakaw Legion members were busy last week participating in the Remembrance Day ceremonies at the schools in Wakaw, Cudworth Bellevue and St. Louis. The schools of Wakaw, Cudworth, Bellevue and St. Louis were attended by Jack Jones, Paul Danis, Sandra Venn, Sharon Bews (Wakaw, Cudworth), Ken Husnik, Lynn Kuffner and Mel Osolinsky (Bellevue, St. Louis). The ceremony scheduled for the Alightyvoice Education Centre on the One Arrow First Nation was cancelled due to safety protocols stemming from illness at the school. Of course on Friday the 11th, there was the community ceremony held at the Wakaw Rec Centre, the first large in-person gathering since the start of the pandemic.

As always, with quiet dignity, the Legion members carried out the time-honoured Acts of Remembrance accommodating the Last Post, the moment of silence, and Reveille, timed to occur as close to the start of the eleventh hour as possible. This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Dieppe raid, a battle that claimed the lives of 916 Canadian soldiers. Of the 4963 Canadians who embarked on Operation Jubilee as it was called, only 2210 returned to England at the end of the day and many of those were wounded. The Raid on Dieppe is often described as the Canadian military's bloodiest day of the war. Of the 944 Allied Forces members buried at Dieppe, 707 are Canadian. The Dieppe Canadian War Cemetery is located at the town of Hautôt-sur-Mer, five kilometres south of Dieppe.

It’s also 105 years since the Battle of Vimy Ridge where 3598 Canadian soldiers gave their lives and another 7000 were injured, and the Battle of Passchendaele which was carried out in the Ypres region of Belgium. By the time the town of Passchendaele had been wrested from German control, more than 4000 Canadian soldiers had died and almost 12,000 were wounded. Canada’s victories at war cost a heavy price; the death of every soldier and member of the military reverberated through the generations still to come, changing forever the dynamics of families and the stories they shared.

This year’s ceremony opened with Legion President Jack Jones officiating, the Parade of Colours commanded by Sgt at Arms, Paul Danis, accompanied by an honour guard of RCMP Sgt Von Neisen, Corp. Scott Belfontaine and Const. Brendan Feere. The singing of O Canada, followed by the Last Post, moment of silence and Reveille and the Act of Remembrance recitation took place. The names of the fallen were read by Legion members Mel Osolinsky and Noelle Brunanski. The Prayer of Invocation, Prayer for the Veterans and Prayer of Remembrance were presented by Major Glenn Patey, Pastor of Faith Community Church. Wreaths were lain representing Governments, the Legion, and in memory of the fallen and veterans who passed since their service. The Silver Cross Wreath was lain by Mary Ann Hildrebrandt, accompanied by Noelle Brunasnki. During the service two hymns, Abide With Me and Let There be Peace on Earth were sung. Two media presentations “In Flanders Fields” recited by Leonard Cohen and “A Canadian At War” were shown. Before the ceremony concluded with the singing of God Save the King and the Retiring of the Colours, President Jones asked all those currently serving and the veterans present to stand and be acknowledged. We are thankful for their service.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder