Young and old remember together in Ile-a-la Crosse

Veteran Jim Durocher (right) leads the Remembrance Day ceremony Nov. 11 in Ile-a-la Crosse, while retired Sgt. Maj. John Belanger (centre) and RCMP Cst. Steve Smart (left) look on. Durocher, who refers to himself as a peacetime veteran, said it's important to pass the ideas of remembrance on to younger generations.

Cadets learn to remember

By Mac Christie

Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ile-a-la Crosse this year were a blend of young and old, all with the intention of making sure the idea of remembrance lives on.

While the ceremony this year didn’t include any veterans from the World Wars or the Korean Conflict, it did feature so-called peacetime veterans, as well a group of more than 30 young cadets.

The cadet program in the community is based out of the RCMP, and veteran Jim Durocher, who led the ceremony, said the cadets are vital for the future of remembrance in the community.

“I just love to see young people getting involved, because they’re the ones that are going to keep the memories alive,” he said. “Those cadets, one day they’ll be taking over.”

Durocher, 70, said he remembers when veterans from Ile-a-la Crosse were still alive, they pulled him aside and asked him to keep the memory of their sacrifices around, after they were gone.

“We have to keep the memory of those people alive,” he added. “They weren’t trying to paint themselves as heroes, but it’s so important to them that we remember.”

Retired Sgt. Maj. John Belanger, who served in Kosovo, among other places, agreed that the cadets were important to the event.

“I think it’s very important to remember our veterans,” he noted. “If we get the cadets and young people involved they won’t forget the sacrifices that happened.”

The cadet program, which started in late September, has about 35 members.

Members of the brand-new Ile-a-la Crosse cadet program take part in the Remembrance DAy ceremony Nov. 11 in Ile-a-la Crosse. The program has around 35 members, and each one held a photograph of an area veteran during the ceremony.

Sectional leader Angella McKay, who started the program, said the idea behind the project is to provide kids from the area with all-around skills, from life skills and leadership, to academics.

She added the group also incorporates traditional aboriginal activities, such as hunting, fishing and trapping.

Members from the local RCMP help the group with drills and marching, something that came in handy when the group marched in the Remembrance Day parade.

McKay said participating in the ceremony was special for the cadets.

“As our veterans get older and start passing away we really need to instill in younger kids how important it is to remember.”

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