Ahtakakoop veteran sees Remembrance Day as time of reflection

Submitted Photo Mahekan Ahenakew, an Afghanistan veteran, will be in Prince Albert to mark Remembrance Day.

A recently retired Ahtahkakoop Cree Nation veteran who served in Afghanistan sees Remembrance Day as a time for reflection and mourning.

Mahekan Ahenakew retired as a member of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry 2nd Battalion. He also served in the North Saskatchewan Regiment and the 4th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group during his service from 2006 to 2022.

“Remembrance Day is always really a somber time, not just the day itself but the days leading up to it and the days following it,” Ahenakew said. “There was a lot of my life and a lot of my time was given to the job.

“I have a lot of memories so when Remembrance Day time comes around it’s always very somber. It’s like a time of mourning for myself personally.”

Ahenakew served in Kandahar City for both of his tours in Afghanistan. He explained that being deployed overseas helped broaden his horizons in understanding the world’s realities and harshness.

“It also enabled me to understand in regards to where we stand as service members in the role of it all,” he said. “Whatever dynamic position you are going to be playing while you are deployed overseas, you are helping.”

Ahenakew also sees the value of the sacrifice of service.

“There is a selfless value there that is enabling a person to be able to take time away from their families, take time away from home to go and deploy,” he explained. “You understand in regards to the contributions put forward by service men and women in regards to trying to make the world a better place.”

Ahenakew chose to serve because of a family custom.

“My family has a long history of service pretty much since the time of treaties signing and with that I was kind of carrying on a bit of a legacy if you will, a bit of tradition,” Ahenakew said.

There are fewer and fewer of Canada’s Second World War veterans able to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies every year, and that mean veterans of other recent conflict veterans are starting to fill their roles.

Ahenakew said that he views his duty as similar to that of all service members before him.

“You have a duty and you accept that duty and responsibility in regards to fulfilling the role of remembrance in regards to whatever shape it comes in,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are the youngest veteran or if you are the oldest veteran.

“I think that we all commonly feel the same way in regards to the duty that we all have to be present because there are guys that aren’t (and) there are women who aren’t actually here, but we are, so we can’t let our sorrow and our mournfulness overtake our gratitude for our lives. The gratitude for our lives kind of helps to make those Remembrance Day events a little easier. As we all get older, I hope the next generation as well feel that sense of duty and responsibility to it.”

Ahenakew does not stick to one place for Remembrance Day.

“I go various places whether it be locally within the community here at Ahtahkakoop or else in the city. This coming Remembrance Day service I will be in Prince Albert,” he said.