Walk for Veterans to pay tribute to retired Canadian forces member killed in James Smith tragedy

Photo from the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association Facebook page. The Canadian Walk for Veterans will pay tribute to retired solider Earl Burns Sr., who was killed in the mass stabbing on James Smith Cree Nation.

Saturday’s Canadian Walk for Veterans in Kinsmen Park will have special significance for the retired members of Canada’s armed forces who participate.

Former members and their families will walk to raise awareness about the struggles faced by Canadian veterans, first responders, and foreign nationals who supported Canadian troops in conflict zones such as Somalia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Afghanistan and other peacekeeping missions. They’ll also pay tribute to a recently fallen comrade: former veteran Earl Burns Sr., who was killed during the tragic stabbing attack on James Smith Cree Nation.

“It is very important that we pay tribute to such a quiet, humble soldier who is no longer with us, but served his country (and) served his community,” said Michelle McKeaveney, Prince Albert team lead for the Walk for Veterans. “We would like to make sure that we honour that (service) in the best way possible.”

The walk will start at 1 p.m. with some brief speeches paying tribute to burns. Attendees will then do a Memorial Lap for the Burns Family and all Veterans.

The event in Prince Albert is one of 11 walks being held across Canada and the only one in Saskatchewan, with hundreds more Canadians supporting the walk virtually by walking in their communities and donating pledges online.

“I think it’s important for Saskatchewan to be included in it the last three years because we do have a number of veterans in our province, young and old, and a number of them served in second careers such as first responders capacities,” McKeaveney said.

The foreign nationals who served as interpreters will also receive special recognition at this year’s walk. The goal is to create more support for interpreters who are resettling in Canada after aiding Canadians in places like Afghanistan.

“Not only were the Canadian soldiers there supporting other countries and representing Canada, but they were also supported in their duties by these interpreters,” McKeaveney said. “For us to give back to their families as they settle into Canada, it’s actually a really neat thing to be a part of.”

The Prince Albert walk is being hosted by River Valley Resilience Retreat, of which McKeaveney is a co-founder. The retreat’s mission is to provide secluded and safe respite for those who suffer from PTSI or OSI. Their patrons include: responders, veterans, active armed forces, RCMP, police, EMS & fire, including volunteer fire, corrections, social workers, doctors, nurses, emergency dispatch, 911, tow operators, funeral assistants, First Nations crisis/response and all public safety personnel. Net proceeds will be used to help fund their activities

“It’s a beautiful partnership,” McKeaveney said. “We are so grateful and blessed to be a part of this Canadian National Walk For Veterans because the people who are in charge of it are integral people with a high degree of integrity. This walk is very well known in some of the larger cities across Canada, so just for us to even have a small part of it is amazing.”

The Walk will start at Kinsmen Park at Central Ave. and 26th Street North West at the Kinette Amphitheatre. Participants can register on site, or on the internet before the walk on Saturday.

“We have no fancy cover people,” McKeaveney said. “Just come to the amphitheatre and find us and register there.”

For more information or to register visit https://canadianwalkforveterans.com/prince-albert.