New monuments honouring all veterans unveiled in ceremony at Memorial Square

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Military dignitaries salute the new monuments as part of the monument unveiling at Memorial Square on Sunday.

The City of Prince Albert officially unveiled the new monuments and benches in Memorial Square on Sunday.

There were multiple cenotaphs unveiled, honouring Korea, Peacekeepers, Indigenous Veterans, Women and Afghanistan Veterans. The recognition event was the second part of Decoration Day in Prince Albert.

Ramsay Bellisle was part of the monuments committee and led the Regiment up Central Avenue. He said it was important to honour veterans who didn’t take part in major wars or ship overseas, but still served faithfully.

“A veteran is a veteran,” Bellisle said. “It doesn’t matter what (war). World War One, World War Two. All of them are peacekeeping missions. You’re on a peacekeeping mission, but that doesn’t mean that you’re not walking six months of Monday’s and you can’t walk off the hard pack and step on a mine.”

Sunday’s event began with a march by members of the North Saskatchewan Regiment, and accompanied by any retired veterans. They marched from the World War One Cenotaph at Court of King’s Bench north on Central Ave to Memorial Square.

Bellisle said Canadian Forces members who didn’t serve during a war are still veterans, and it’s important to recognize their contributions as well.

“I’ve been involved in a few military funerals, (and) talking with the families afterwards, especially after Afghanistan, the one thing the families always ask is they don’t want their loved ones to be forgotten,” Bellisle said. “Memorials like this are a way to ensure that we remember.”

Brenda Cripps of the Prince Albert Legion approached the City of Prince Albert in May 2022 with a project proposal to add a cenotaph or memorial in Memorial Square to commemorate all Veterans spanning from the Korean War to current Veterans. After consultation with the Legion members, the City developed cenotaphs for placement.

Bellisle, as part of the memorial committee, was asked by Cripps to organize and run the military parade aspect of the ceremony. He thanked Tim Yeaman and Jody Boulet from the City for their work getting the installation completed.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Brigadier General Gwen Bourque laid a wreath at the World War II Cenotaph as part of the monument unveiling at Memorial Square on Sunday.

“We didn’t know about the benches,” Bellisle said. “They told us during one of the planning meetings that they had these benches and they asked when a good time would be to do it.

Bellisle is not the only Afghanistan veteran in the area, but he is more public than some.

“I’m glad that we have the Afghanistan war one because there are members in the community that participated in Operation Medusa, the big heavy fighting from 2006 there, (and) you never see them at Remembrance Day for their own personal reasons. They’re not ready to come up,” he said.
He said that now that the new memorials exist, those veterans have a place to come to when they are ready.

Indigenous Veteran Emil Highway gave the prayer during Sunday’s ceremony. Highway served in Germany during the Cold War and was happy to see the new monuments.

“It is very heartwarming. It is very encouraging to see all this happening,” Highway said.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The military parade to the monument unveiling made its way down Central Avenue on Sunday ahead of the start of the event in Memorial Square

The parade was inspected by Bourque and Fortin including the new guard, old guard, cadets and firefighters.

Dignitaries who spoke included Mayor of Prince Albert Greg Dionne and Brigadier General Gwen Bourque, Deputy Commander 3 Canadian Division.

Dionne was accompanied by Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation Chief Karen Bird.

Other military dignitaries included Colonel Shawn Fortin, Commander 38 Canadian Brigade Group.

Along with monuments the benches surrounding Memorial Square include the words to “In Flanders Field”.

The Legion and ANAVET Colour Party was marched on for the ceremony. Veterans who were invited but sent regrets were Ed Laird and Korea Veteran Mervin John Bear.

An Honour Song was played by Ironswing Drum Group from Sturgeon Lake.

The Parade was turned over to Lieutenant Colonel Mike Graber of the North Saskatchewan Regiment.

Former active member who have since retired joined the parade from King’s Bench. The list included Highway, members of the ANAVETs and someone from Bellisle’s tour in Afghanistan.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Piper Dave Monette played in front of the new monuments as part of the monument unveiling at Memorial Square on Sunday.

The emcee for the event was North Saskatchewan Regiment member Shelley Bellisle. Dave Monette provided bagpipe accompaniment throughout.

The event also included the playing of the Last Post, two minutes of silence and the traditional aspects of Remembrance Day.

Cripps gave the Act of Remembrance and Military Dignitaries laid a wreath at the original World War II Cenotaph.

The event concluded with the departure of the Dignitaries and Colour Party and everyone was invited to view the new monuments.