News » Whistler

Remembrance Day service draws over 1,200 to honour and remember

Cenotaph’s move to new location at WOP hailed as huge success



Under grey skies, more than 1,200 people gathered at Whistler Olympic Plaza to honour and remember all those who have served and continue to serve in Canada's military.

"We stand here together today, just one small Canadian town, on this November 11th, shoulder to shoulder with millions of others in similar small towns, from coast to coast to coast," said Brian Buchholz addressing the audience as he has done since 1995.

"We gather together in our universal and shared want, no 'need' to express our appreciation for the sacrifice of more than 118,000 men and women lost in war and peacekeeping over the past than 100 years and with the shared hope we will never witness such loss again in our lifetimes."

Buchholz address followed the arrival of the colour party and various readings by community members and youth including Ian Van Gruen, Fea Ronano, Lauren Wentzel, Ben Shuster and Jack Crompton. The Whistler Singers and Whistler Children's Choir also performed. Dr. Bruce Mohr performed Last Post and Rouse with the cannonade set off by Keith Mellor. Blackcomb Aviation provided the fly past.

In his address this year Buchholz reminded those gathered of the service and sacrifice of the many who came from various ethnicities all of whom called Canada home, and of the thousands of First Nations people who have served.

"During (the First World War), 4,000 first Nations members enlisted," said Buchholz.

"Despite the then Canada-wide reality of discrimination, racism and a lack of basic democratic rights; many First Nations' soldiers served bravely and selflessly; demonstrating exemplary courage and heroism on the battlefield side by side with their largely Anglo and Francophone brothers.

"Strikingly, many of these First Nations' volunteers did not even speak English when they arrived to enlist. First People troops left a remarkable record of wartime accomplishment across the decades."

Special attention this year is also being paid across Canada to the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele, which ended on Nov. 10, 1917.

Said Buchholz: "At the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, great courage and sacrifice was made during those long and bloody months.

"In that extended battle, nine Canadians would earn the Victoria Cross; the highest award for military valour; The 100,000 strong Canadian Corp earned an impressive but costly victory at Passchendaele in the face of unimaginable hardship.

"The price they paid lies beyond our human ability to conceive - more than 4,000 of our soldiers lost their lives during that October and November 100 years ago; another 12,000 wounded."

This was the first service held at the new location of Whistler's Cenotaph at the Plaza. The move was welcomed by attendees who enjoyed the larger venue and the chance to have refreshments under cover courtesy of the Rotary Club.

This year, thanks to the grassroots efforts of a small group of dedicated locals, the cenotaph has a new home in Whistler Olympic Plaza.

"The community truly came together for the project," Anne Townley, the driving force behind the cenotaph's relocation, told Pique last week.