Camrose Legion passes colour party torch to cadets
The Camrose Royal Canadian Legion Branch 57 put youth at the front of their Remembrance Day Ceremony this year.
Due to the age of surviving veterans and falling number, the Legion turned to the Camrose Rotary Air Cadets and the Camrose Southern Alberta Light Horse Army Cadet Corps to take over the colour party on Saturday at the Camrose Regional Exhibition.
The honour and responsibility of the moment was not lost on Flight Sgt. Ashley White, who was in charge of the party this year.
“Talking to people who attended the ceremony and hearing their stories even during the ceremony … it’s moving and for me to be a part of it in such a visible way as colour party commander, I’m really honoured,” said White, 17.
The responsibility to lead the colour party will switch between the two groups of cadets each year, though both will make up the colour party every year. Cadets had to prove their worthiness to be in the colour party through years of training and this fall they went through a tryout process. They’ve spent the last few weeks practicing for Remembrance Day.
“It makes you feel proud, it shows that we worked hard to get to where we are and we’re showing it in public,” said Army Cadet Warrant Officer Chris Cohordlic. “It’s a huge responsibility.”
Camrose Legion Sgt. of Arms Ragnar Gislason was impressed by the performance of the cadets in their new role with the ceremony.
“The cadets did such a wonderful job on the parade, and there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll do a wonderful job for years to come,” he said. “I’m pushing to have this be a permanent thing with the cadets and the colour party. I don’t know if you saw the Legion marching past, but they’re all pretty old.”
The cadets are currently Camrose’s strongest link to its long held military history as a training depot and barracks in the second world war, while Camrose residents played major roles in both world wars and subsequent conflicts.
The cadets have played a major role in developing local youths for decades with the Air Cadets celebrating their 60th anniversary in Camrose this past summer and the SALH Cadet Corps coming to Camrose in 2002 while the first army cadet corps in Camrose was formed in 1913 as part of the school system.
White was attracted to the cadets five years ago while attending the Remembrance Day Ceremony at the CRE. It is that kind of visibility that can help reinforce the messages, stories and traditions behind the day as the memory of those who fought and died for Canada are kept alive among the youth.
White is considering a future with the Armed Forces as a way to pay for a medical degree. Regardless of that, cadets have given her a strong foundation for future.
The colour party was piped in by Alex Oliver after veterans and legion members marched in.
The ceremony featured a message from Father Jacques deGuise Vaillancourt from St. Andrews Anglican Church in Camrose. He served 20 years as a chaplain with the Armed Forces and talked about some of his experiences while serving and the sacrifices he witnessed. Also had words for the cadets and those who may serve in the future.
“If ever you find yourself wandering in the darkness, take inspiration from veterans and first responders. Remember that freedom comes at a price … it is what the uniform has taught us to defend. Today, we express our unfailing gratitude to those who have done just that.”
The Camrose Composite High School and Camrose and District Community Bands combined to provide music for the ceremony while the Camrose and Area Children’s Choirs also sang.
Legion chaplain Mary Ann Pastuck led the call to worship and invocation, while addresses were given by Battle River-Crowfoot MLA Kevin Sorenson, Wetaskiwin-Camrose MP Bruce Hinkley, and Mayor of Camrose Norm Mayer. Lisa Kozak also read a poem she had written about the issues facing many veterans who are on hard times with little support from the government, pointing to recent reports that there are approximately 770 homeless veterans.
“Hopefully, with respect, Veteran Affairs can also remember the sacrifices of our own cherished veterans and provide accordingly for their needs in today’s society,” said Mayer. “They should not be forgotten. We remember your bravery, we will not forget your sacrifices.”