Saskatoon Remembrance Day ceremony returns in full drive

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‘We have always had the biggest indoor remembrance ceremony in Canada, but the level of participation is astonishing. The community in Saskatoon remembers and honours their veterans.’

Second World War veteran Bob Atkinson, 98, was honoured at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Saskatoon on Friday. Second World War veteran Bob Atkinson, 98, was honoured at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Saskatoon on Friday. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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After two years of online ceremonies, Saskatoon’s military service members and citizens showed up in a big way to the city’s 91st Remembrance Day service on Friday.

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With more than 6,000 people showing up, the theme of 2022’s ceremony was “passing of the torch”.

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“Every year fewer and fewer WW1, WW2 and Korean War veterans are with us. However, veterans are not just the people who participated in those conflicts. Today we honour all our former service members from our old guard,” said Padre Alex Parsons from the Royal Canadian Legion.

The ceremony started with a parade featuring cadets, active service members and retired service members from different branches of the military and police, with music from the Saskatoon Concert Band and the Salvation Army Band.

Prayers were offered by a number of representatives from different religious affiliations — Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky from the Congregation Agudas Israel, Baljinder Dhaliwal from the Sikh Society of Saskatoon, Grand Chief Steven Ross of Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association, and Reverend Mark Kleiner of the Christ Church Anglican.

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Bob Atkinson, left, at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Saskatoon on Friday. Bob Atkinson, left, at the Remembrance Day ceremony in Saskatoon on Friday. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

Central to the ceremony were Second World War veterans Flt. Lt. Reg Harrison of the 431 Squadron, RCAF Bomber Command, and Bob Atkinson of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, 4th Armoured Division. They were honoured with salutes from the service members and an overwhelming applause and cheers from the audience.

Atkinson, who recently turned 98, was left almost speechless.

“I felt very honoured by that. It is hard to express. I was especially touched by the song from Tanys Sherstobetoff, the soloist who sang Let There Be Peace On Earth,” he said after the ceremony. “I have been attending remembrance services for 77 years now, and I enjoy them fully every time.”

Organizing committee member Col. Malcolm Young was extremely pleased with the day.

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“It feels so good to see the citizens of Saskatoon come out in such big numbers. We have always had the biggest indoor remembrance ceremony in Canada, but the level of participation is astonishing. The community in Saskatoon remembers and honours their veterans.”

Young said he could really feel the participation at 11 a.m. when all the lights faded and a two-minute silence was held. “Everyone becomes still and quiet and remembers what happened in that moment so many years ago.

See photos from the 2022 Remembrance Day ceremony here

“ … it is important to take care of our veterans. All the new veterans coming back from Afghanistan, for example, need our continued support. I am so happy to see that Saskatoon does its best to take care of our vets, and so many people are actively involved with that”, Young said.

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HMCS Unicorn commanding officer Michael Su was one of the many active service members present at the ceremony, and said it is a time to make the younger generations aware of all the sacrifices that were made in the past.

“Most poignant to me is the chance for us all to honour these ordinary people that did extraordinary things. If you look at the old vets like Bob and Reg, they were normal guys, but they did some absolutely amazing things.”

Atkinson also had some advice for the younger generation.

“If you are set on it, I would recommend a career in the services, but I’m of two minds on that. I have great-grandsons and great-granddaughters coming up and I don’t know if I want to see them join the military. It is just that things are so uncertain in the world right now, I just don’t know what they are going to encounter. It bothers me to no end.”

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  1. In Photos: 2022 Remembrance Day in Saskatoon

  2. The parade as part of the annual Remembrance Day service at SaskTel Centre on Nov. 11, 2022 was set to be led by the commanding officer of the North Saskatchewan Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Sansom (centre), and his command team: Deputy Commander Major Mike Graver (left) and Regimental Sergeant Major Chief Warrant Officer Jason Balcaen (right).

    Family front of mind as Remembrance Day ceremony returns to SaskTel Centre

  3. The collection of 29 original oil-on-canvas paintings still hangs today on the walls of Nutana Collegiate on 11th Street East in Saskatoon.

    Nutana Collegiate art collection honours former students who died as Allied soldiers during WW I

Over 6,000 people attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on Friday. Over 6,000 people attended the Remembrance Day ceremony at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon on Friday. Saskatoon StarPhoenix

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