ELK POINT – Students, staff and parents at Elk Point Elementary School paused to remember and honour all those who served our country in the past at Wednesday’s Remembrance Day observances, and gained new insight into life in the military from one of today’s soldiers.
The skirl of bagpipes accompanied the arrival of Canadian Armed Forces Major Jocelyn Roy, RCMP Cst. Michael Engle, Royal Canadian Legion member Vern Slonowski, Mayor Parrish Tung and St. Paul Education Trustee Darcy Younghans to a gymnasium with a giant wreath front and centre, the near capacity crowd joining in as Savannah Erickson and Nicole Kjenner led the singing of O Canada.
Principal Leanne Vinge welcomed and introduced the special guests, before explaining that “Today is a day we honour and remember all those who have served… on Canadian soil or overseas, whether in combat or supporting operations and whether they fought for peace or have kept the peace… risking their lives for our safety and protection.
“Living in Canada, War can seem very far removed from our daily lives,” Vinge continued, “But in other parts of the world, war is very real… there are too many in the world for whom war and conflict is part of their daily life… each of us has a role to play… each doing our part to keep the peace by letting love flow.”
The principal led the students in the Act of Remembrance before Ava Letawsky and Montana Sharkey explained the meaning of The Last Post, Derrance Kitchemokaman, Brielle Collins and Kadence Blacklock the meaning of the two minutes of silence, Lincoln Jurak the meaning of the Lament and Nicholas Habiak, the meaning of Reveille.
All rose for the playing of The Last Post, two minutes of silence, the Lament and Reveille, and responded “We will remember them” to the Commitment to Remember before the honoured guests rose to place wreaths. School staff representatives Debbie Wood and Lynn Urquhart were followed by two students from each class to place poppies on the giant wreath before Savannah Erickson and Nicole Kjenner read John McCrae’s famous poem, ‘In Flanders Fields.’
Special guest Major Roy was on hand as part of the Memory Project of Historica Canada, and after congratulating the students on a well done ceremony, the father of three and whose wife is an RCMP officer in Wainwright, told the students he joined the military in 2004 and was posted across Canada, from New Brunswick, Kingston Ontario and Quebec City to Wainwright. He was a platoon commander in Afghanistan, including nine months in Kabul, which he says is a poor country “but they are people like us. They don’t speak English or French, so I had a translator.” As commander of Bravo Company Bold, he ad 139 soldiers in the infantry.
His next posting was Latvia, where the military “could solve problems without violence” and where he served with personnel from nine other NATO countries, before returning to Canada, where he served with the military aiding with the flooding in Quebec and in a Montreal long term care facility during the pandemic.
Major Roy also gave the students insight into Remembrance Day itself, an event dating back to what is known as The Great War, which ended on Nov. 11, 1918.
“Where bombs exploded, strangely enough it caused a condition of the soil that poppies grew on the battlefields,” he told the students. As for Remembrance Day, “I think it’s about people. We remember the people and their sacrifice. It’s something to think about. We remember the people who gave all.” In closing, he told of a fellow soldier who lost a leg in battle and after being fitted with a prosthesis, re-enlisted and returned to Latvia.
Students Hudson Krankowsky, Hudson Brousseau, Hunter Pankiw and Kouper Pals presented the poem, “Do Not Take for Granted” before all the students wrapped up the program by singing “Remember Flanders Fields” and Vinge urged all present to “Take time today, this Saturday and all year, to remember.”