School Remembrance Day services a chance to educate students about the cost of freedom

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald Students laid a wreath at the Ecole St. Mary High School Remembrance Day service on Tuesday morning.

Each year the Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion and ANAVETs (Army Navy Air Force Veterans) spend the week leading up to Remembrance Day taking part in the services at schools in both divisions across Prince Albert.

On Tuesday morning, their first stop was at Ecole St. Mary High School for that school’s annual service. Gary Renaud, the Sergeant at Arms for Prince Albert Royal Canadian Legion, explained that these events are a great way to educate students on the importance of Remembrance Day.

“We have got to teach our younger generation what went on, and to respect our freedom and the people who gave their lives so we can be free,” Renaud said.

Renaud described St. Mary students as fantastic on Tuesday. He said it’s encouraging to see students show their reverence for such a solemn event.

“It makes me very proud that the younger generation is treating it like it should be,” Renaud said.

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Colour Party marches off at the conclusion of the Ecole St. Mary High School Remembrance Day service on Tuesday morning led by (L to R) Gary Renaud of the Legion and Glen Stieb of the ANAVETS.

During the week, colour parties from both the Legion and the AVAVETS are busy preparing for school Remembrance Day ceremonies, even on days like Tuesday when the weather conditions are terrible. Renaud said they attend ceremonies at roughly eight to 10 schools every year.

“All week we are busy right until Friday, and we enjoy it,” he said. “It’s part of our duty to let people know that we appreciate this.
“In fact, this afternoon we have got a school. It’s usually about two schools a day.”

The afternoon ceremony occurred at St. Francis School. They’ll visit King George School and Princess Margaret School on Wednesday, followed by Vickars School and Vincent Massey School on Thursday.

Glen Stieb, the Sergeant at Arms for the ANAVETs, said the ceremonies are a great opportunity for students to learn about their country’s history.

“It’s to give the students a better insight … for what has happened and what Canada has done throughout war years, and how actually Canada has become a more sovereign country ever since Vimy Ridge,” Stieb explained. “Vimy Ridge was not taken by the British. (It) was not taken by the French. When they first tried it they had British officers. When they took Vimy Ridge it was Canadian officers, Canadian soldiers and that basically gave the Canadians a good mark.”

Like Renaud, Stieb also appreciated the reverence and respect that students had for the ceremony. He also appreciated the opportunity to teach students why Remembrance Day is important, especially about lesser known aspects, like how the First and Second World Wars affected Canadians back home.

“It’s nice to give a little bit more of an insight as to what it’s all about from the home front area, and how it helped the war,” he explained. “A lot of people don’t realize that. Clothing factories were made for canvases for parachutes and things like that for the war effort.

“I think they (students) understand more and more now because they do look it up now on the Internet. There is so much information that is available to them so they can understand the different wars and the different things that happened in other countries.”

Tuesday’s service included a performance of an original composition of “In Flanders Field” by the choir, an explanation of the symbols of Remembrance Day such as the Poppy by students and a performance of “The Last Post’” by students.

The service also included participation from Prince Albert Police Chief Jonathan Bergen and other representatives. Mayor Greg Dionne also brought greetings from the city and his own speech on the importance of the day.

All of the regular elements were also present with the moment of silence and Act of Remembrance.

Because it was in a Catholic school there was a religious element with participation from the Archdiocese.

The morning concluded with a speech by Principal Mark Phaneuf and the laying of a wreath.