Inaugural Remembrance Day service at new location hailed a success 

Service draws over 1,200 to honour and remember

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CLARE OGILVIE - A new tradition More than 1,000 people attended Whistler's first Remembrance Day ceremony in its new location.
  • Photo by Clare Ogilvie
  • A new tradition More than 1,000 people attended Whistler's first Remembrance Day ceremony in its new location.

The first Remembrance Day service to be held at Whistler Olympic Plaza has been lauded as a great success.

"I thought it was fantastic," said Paul Foster, a veteran of the British army who has been part of the Veterans Parade and Colour Party for the last five years.

"I was so impressed," he said.

"We marched from near the bridge by the village fire station... and there were a lot of people as we marched through the village. There were people lining the route, which we never had before, so it was very good. People were much more involved than in previous years.

"And... because it was more through the village and the ceremony was in the village people who weren't even thinking of attending were drawn into it. I got the sense of more involvement rather than less."

That was something Whistler Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden noticed as well.

"Looking around the crowd, there were many, many community members," she said. "There were some guests who just happened to walk by and see the ceremony and joined in watching...(but) it still very much felt like a community event."

Wilhelm-Morden also praised the event organizers and the community group that spearheaded the cenotaph's move from the Whistler Village Firehall to the Plaza.

"I'd like to thank the remembrance committee, both Brian Buchholz and his people for putting on the ceremony, and also Anne Townley and her volunteer group for spearheading the move of the cenotaph," she said.

Under broken skies, more than 1,200 people gathered at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Nov. 11 to honour and remember all those who have served and continue to serve in Canada's military.

"We stand here together today, just one small Canadian town, on this November 11th, shoulder to shoulder with millions of others in similar small towns, from coast to coast to coast," said Buchholz addressing the audience as he has done since 1995.

"We gather together in our universal and shared want, no 'need' to express our appreciation for the sacrifice of more than 118,000 men and women lost in war and peacekeeping over the past 100 years and with the shared hope we will never witness such loss again in our lifetimes."

Buchholz's address followed the arrival of the Veterans Parade and Colour Party and various readings by community members and youth including Ian Van Gruen, Fea Ronano, Lauren Wentzel, Ben Shuster and Jack Crompton. The Whistler Singers and Whistler Children's Choir also performed. Last Post and Rouse was performed by Dr. Bruce Mohr with the cannonade set off by Keith Mellor. Blackcomb Aviation provided the fly past.

In his address this year Buchholz reminded those gathered of the service and sacrifice of the many who came from various ethnicities, all of whom called Canada home, and of the thousands of First Nations people who have served.

"During (the First World War), 4,000 First Nations members enlisted," said Buchholz.

"Despite the then Canada-wide reality of discrimination, racism and a lack of basic democratic rights; many First Nations' soldiers served bravely and selflessly; demonstrating exemplary courage and heroism on the battlefield side by side with their largely Anglo and Francophone brothers."

Special attention this year was also paid across Canada to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which ended on Nov. 10, 1917.

Said Buchholz: "At the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, great courage and sacrifice was made during those long and bloody months.

"In that extended battle, nine Canadians would earn the Victoria Cross; the highest award for military valour; The 100,000 strong Canadian Corp earned an impressive but costly victory at Passchendaele in the face of unimaginable hardship.

"The price they paid lies beyond our human ability to conceive — more than 4,000 of our soldiers lost their lives during that October and November 100 years ago; another 12,000 wounded."

with files from Braden Dupuis

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