Ceremonies were held in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick on Sunday to honour Canadian peacekeepers, both past and present, for the International Day of United Nations Peacekeeping.
For residents of Bass River, N.S., it was a day to recognize those wearing the famous blue beret. The colour guard and parade marched through the heart of the small village, and eventually joined with a crowd of 200 people at the Veterans Memorial Park.
“The park is unique in many ways, and this is one of the ways we want to be able to honour the people who sometimes do not get the recognition that we feel they deserve,” says park designer Dr. Karen Ewing.
This is the tenth year the community has recognized the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers. The service is one of only a few of its kind being held across Canada.
“To be able to celebrate what they've accomplished and the sacrifices are their families make, when someone is gone for six months or a year, to serve,” says event co-ordinator Ken Jamieson.
In recognition of Canada's 150th anniversary, the Stadacona Band of the Royal Canadian Navy provided the musical backdrop. Among those listening was former RCMP peacekeeper Barry Mellish, who served two tours with the UN and whose son was killed in Afghanistan.
“Most of the time, the peacekeepers when they go in to a place, the war is either still going on or it has just finished and it's pretty dangerous. But it's such an honour to go in and help people,” says Mellish.
One by one, wreaths were laid in front of the monuments, honouring all those who served from the community, and those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. There was then a presentation of a tall, metal yellow ribbon – the familiar symbol to support our troops.
“What it does is give us cause to remember those of us who either didn't come home, and there's a tree in this park remembering many of them, but also those who came home with wounds on the outside and wounds on the inside,” says retired peacekeeper Gerry White.
A similar service was held in Hanwell, N.B., on Sunday during the annual Touch-a-Truck event, which honours RCMP Sgt. Mark Gallagher, who lost his life while serving the UN in Haiti.
Large vehicles were open to the public for viewing and exploring, with a goal of making as much noise as possible.
“They love it,” says Deputy Chief Ian Little of the Harvey Fire Department. “Just to have a chance to sit in for a two or three minutes and play with the sirens and try on the helmet and play with the buttons, it’s just a really good chance for the children.”
Sgt. Gallagher was in Haiti when the deadly earthquake hit in January 2010. His body was recovered a few days later.
“This is something that Marc would've loved,” says volunteer Jamie Watson. “Marc Gallagher was a hands on person, he loved working with kids. This is something that would’ve been perfect for him.”
Money brought in from the event will go to the Sgt. Mark Gallagher Memorial Vocational School in Haiti, which opened in 2014, as well as the Greater Fredericton chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
“We work and we are partnered with a lot of the people who are here. We have city police, military police, ambulance, fire, rescue,” says Danielle Cole of MADD Greater Fredericton.
Money continues to be counted, but already more than $15,000 has been raised at Sunday’s event.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh and Nick Moore.