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Cold Lake celebrates RCAF's 100th anniversary with Freedom of the City parade

The City of Cold Lake hosted the Freedom of the City parade in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on Thursday.

COLD LAKE - The City of Cold Lake hosted the Freedom of the City parade in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on Thursday. The event took place at City Hall, where members of 4 Wing marched through the city’s downtown, marking the long-standing tradition known as Freedom of the City. 

City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland expressed his pride and honour during the ceremony. 

“About 10 years ago I think I said the same words, but it's pretty much the coolest thing to do as a mayor, to do what I just did, inspect the troops. It's quite an honour. So, on behalf of the residents of the City of Cold Lake and City council, it is my honour to grant the privilege and the distinction of the freedom of the city to four winged forces based coalition.” 

He extended his gratitude to the key figures involved in organizing the event.  

“I want to thank the wing commander, Col. David Tran, the organizing committee of the Freedom of the City Parade, Chief Warrant Officer Kyle Zaleski and your team, and all the people on parade. A great thank you to all of you.” 

Acknowledging the presence of notable attendees, Copeland added, “I'd like to thank all the dignitaries in attendance. We have some honourary colonels, we have counterparts from the MD of Bonnyville, Reeve, Kalinsky is here, and the mayor of the Town of Bonnyville, Elisa Brosseau. And we have other dignitaries and of course, retired military veterans in attendance and the Legions and the Air Force.” 

Copeland also recognized Ray Coates, a significant figure in the history of the event. 

“I appreciate everybody being here. You might have wondered who the gentleman was with me on parade, but... his name is Ray Coates, and Ray was very instrumental in the first parade that we did in April of 1983, and he was the mayor of Grand Centre at the time. So, I was really honoured to ask Ray to be part of the ceremony today. One of the things that Ray told me when I became mayor back in ‘07 was to make sure that our commitment to the base was there. And I've cherished his words ever since.” 

Copeland further spoke about a special scroll created for the occasion.  

“We have a scroll that is honouring today's event. And the scroll is well done... there's some real significant words in the scroll... It talks about freedom.”  

Reflecting on the importance of freedom and the sacrifices made by military personnel, the mayor stated, “We take our freedom in this country for granted, and I want to thank everyone presently and in the past that has worn a military uniform and placed your life at risk to protect our freedom here in Canada. I can't say enough.” 

Copeland emphasized the community's support for the military, especially during Remembrance Day ceremonies held each November. 

“When we have our big Remembrance Day ceremonies, we have a huge turnout and it's our community giving thanks to everybody that's serving in the military.” 

In closing, Copeland praised the efforts of 4 Wing and said he looks forward to future developments.  

“I want to thank everyone who came out to the parade. And I want to especially thank 4 Wing for putting on all the activities this week, celebrating 70 years here in Cold Lake.”  

He also acknowledged how the introduction of the F-35 jets will be "an amazing change for us. It's going to be a foundational change, almost like it was way back when. And I really think there's going to be great things in our community and for the military with having a state-of-the-art aircraft.”  

He spoke in appreciation of the federal government investing in the needed infrastructure for the F-35 jets.  

“I think it's going to be just a tremendous boost to the economy, of course, but our region and our country is going to benefit by having the best plane in the world here in Cold Lake, protecting Canada.” 

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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