Pikwakanagan – The cenotaph overlooking Golden Lake at the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation (AOPFN) is perhaps the most hauntingly beautiful one in the Valley and it was a somber occasion on Saturday as the community gathered to remember and pay tribute.
Pikwakanagan Councillor Don Bilodeau spoke on behalf of chief and council, welcoming those in attendance.
“We gather in honour of all veterans and in particular Aboriginal veterans,” he noted.
While many times the number of casualties and injured veterans are recalled during Remembrance Day, he said he would not do that this year. So many also come home wounded in many ways, he said.
“Although today is about them, I am reminded war is still with us as we gather here today,” he said.
“War has not taught the need for kindness and respect, co-existence and co-operation,” he cautioned.
The councillor encouraged those present to remember and thank their ancestors and reflect on what they learned from them.
“We have the opportunity to do better, to be better and we need to honour their sacrifices,” he said.
Garrison Petawawa 2 Service Battalion Maintenance Company Major Alexander Thiel thanked the community for inviting them, as has been the tradition for many years.
“We honour their long history of welcoming many nations to their territory,” he said.
On Remembrance Day it is important to take time to honour the generations of women and men who answered the call, he said. Many never came home.
“We are people of peace, respect and tolerance, kindness and honour,” he said, noting those qualities are present because of the sacrifices of those who came before.
“Without memory there cannot be continuity or identity,” he said.
As well, those who came home changed with mental and physical scars need to be remembered. Their families also sacrifice daily to care for them, he said.
Major Thiel said it is important to always remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
“Those we love don’t go away,” he said. “They walk beside us every day.”
Several wreaths were laid during the ceremony. Councillor Cathy Bernard laid the Pikwakanagan Veteran Wreath. Naveah Sarazin laid the Ontario Veteran Wreath for Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke MPP John Yakabuski. Sandy Nash laid the Pikwakanagan Elders Wreath and Councillor Dale Benoit-Zohr laid the Pikwakanagan Wreath.
Major Thiel and Master Warrant Officer Patrick Lebel laid the 2 Service Battalion Maintenance Company Wreath. Fire Chief Chris Sarazin placed a Pikakwanagan Fire Department Wreath. Jayden Kohoko-Audio laid the Pikwakanagan Wreath on behalf of youth and Kiana Meness placed the Korean War Veterans wreath. Laurie Bennett laid the Veteran Affairs Wreath and Emma Logan laid the Canada Veterans Wreath on behalf of MP Cheryl Gallant.
During the closing, the Pikwakanagan Wildflower sang a song.
Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader