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Freedom of the City ceremony in Halifax celebrates centennial anniversary of the Naval Reserve


More than 100 members from HMCS Scotian marched through the streets of downtown Halifax Sunday to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the Naval Reserve in Canada.

“It’s an honour bestowed on a city to its militia, in our case the Naval Reserve, to be able to have the freedom to bear arms and march through the city without being arrested or causing problems,” explained Kyle Penney, commanding officer of HMCS Scotian, .

The Freedom of the City ceremony includes a parade which is a symbolic gesture honouring military units with historical, social and geographical ties to the region. It acknowledges their dedicated service and fosters strong bonds between the unit and the residents.

Members of HMCS Scotian marched to the front steps of City Hall, where Mayor Mike Savage was there to welcome them.

“It shows the relationship between the city, the community and the militia reserve. Traditionally the militia and the navy reserves would help protect the communities that they were in,” said Penney.

Mayor Mike Savege speaks to members of the HMCS Scotian for the Freedom of the City ceremony. (CTV/Hafsa Arif)

Sunday was Sub-Lt. Omar Bitar’s first time participating in the parade.

“I’m extremely proud to be in the Navy. I have an older brother who serves full-time on the regular force, so just doing my part. I’m also in university, so [I’m] just participating and giving as much to the navy as I can,” said Bitar.

Members of the HMCS Scotian march past the camera at Halifax City Hall for the Freedom of the City ceremony. (CTV/Hafsa Arif)There are 24 naval reserves across Canada. HMCS Scotian is the only reserve unit in Nova Scotia, along with 4 others on the East Coast.

Between the Navy and city, the relationship has deep roots, said Bitar.

“In this town, especially in Halifax, the Navy is really important, so just keeping up relations with the public and establishing out presence.”

A celebration that not only pays homage to the past but also looks ahead to the future.

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