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Manitoulin Island observes Decoration Day at the Manitoulin Cenotaph

MINDEMOYA鈥擣or the first time in recent memory, inclement weather moved the annual Manitoulin District Cenotaph Decoration Day service indoors to the J.H. Burt memorial Arena in Mindemoya. The sounds of the venerable Sudbury and District Pipe Band reverberated from the barn roof as they fulfilled their commitment to the ceremony, the 86th time the pipe band, in its various forms, has played at this event, non-stop, since 1938, according to master of ceremonies Comrade Jim Woods.

The two Island branches of the Royal Canadian Legion, #177 and #514, take turns hosting the event and this year it was Branch #177鈥檚 turn however the usual emcee, Comrade Roy Eaton, is currently in Europe marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Juno Beach, where his uncle landed and fought 80 years ago, so Branch #514 Past-President Jim Woods, assisted by Lt. Denis Blake of Branch #177, ran the service which had been written by Comrade Eaton before he left.

鈥淭his shows (Comrade Eaton鈥檚) dedication to all veterans, the Legion, the communities and the residents of Manitoulin Island and all Canadians that he and we should never forget what they sacrificed for us,鈥 Comrade Woods told the large gathering. 鈥淚 hope you enjoy today鈥檚 service and leave this solemn place of gathering with a renewed sense of what we owe to those who gave us so much to be thankful for.鈥

Following an innovation by Legion Chaplain Rev. Whitney Bruno and the singing of O Canada by Comrade Tammy Bryan-Walsh. Special recognition was given to MPP Carol Hughes, MPP Michael Mantha, Flora Wilson Chartrand, District H 1st Deputy Commander and Gary MacPherson, Zone H-3 1st Deputy Commander, Sgt. Wayne Golden of the Sgt. Charles Golden Ceremonial Rifle Team and Pipe Major Stuart Gagan.

After the standard Legion ceremony that concludes with the Act of Remembrance, the Sgt. Charles Golden Ceremonial Rifle Team offered a salute outside the arena (for the sake of delicate ears). 

Algoma-Manitoulin-Kapuskasing MP Carol Hughes lays a wreathe on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Wreaths were then laid, assisted by a cadet from #348 Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps, in the following order: MP Carol Hughes, Government of Canada; MPP Michael Mantha, Government of Ontario; 2nd Deputy Commander John Lewis, Legion District H; 1st Deputy Commander Gary MacPherson, Legion Zone H-3; President Leslie Burnett escorted by 1st Vice President Duane Deschamps, Branch #177; President Marilyn Clarke, Branch $514; Robert Lamb, Canadian Armed Forces; Larry Ross, who served in the United States Army, Indigenous veterans; Ed Duncan, Army Navy Air Force Veterans Branch 176; Brian Bird, Manitoulin North Shore Naval Veterans Association; President Bob Jewell,, Manitoulin Navy League; Lt (N) Sylvain Boucher, Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps Manitoulin 348; Mayor Richard Stephens, Central Manitoulin; Noah Albers, NEMI Fire Department; Past District Deputy Grand Matron Vanesa Jo Woods, Order of the Eastern Star, Spanish River chapter; Noble Bruce Gordon, Haweater Unit of the Sudbury Shrine Club; Master of the Doric Lodge Brent Forsyth, escorted by Past Master Mike Terry; President Noble Dick McIvor, Sudbury Shrine Club; Det. Sgt. (retired) John Lewis, Ontario Provincial Police; Det. Sgt. (retired) John Lewis, UCCM Anishnaabe Police; Monic Shaw, Manitoulin paramedics; Selena Bruno, Youth Memorial; Sub-lieutenant Tina Davison escorted by Comrade Linda Bowerman, Women鈥檚 memorial; Diane Musgrove in honour of Theodore McGregor; Annette Cada in honour of the Cada family.

Larry Ross, who served in the United States Army, laid a wreathe on behalf of Indigenous veterans.

鈥淲e once again thank all who joined us today in this tribute to veterans,鈥 Comrade President Woods said. 鈥淚n particular, the members of the Sudbury and District Pipe Band who, with their attendance here today, are carrying on a tradition started by the Sault-Sudbury Regiment in 1938. They have maintained this commitment to attend Manitoulin鈥檚 Decoration Day on the first Sunday in June since that time.鈥

鈥淲e also thank Sgt. Wayne Golden (retired) and the members of Sgt. Charles Golden Memorial Rifle Team for being with us once again.鈥

All present were then invited back to Branch #177 for a light lunch and fellowship.

The ceremonies ended with a benediction by Rev. Bruno and the singing of 鈥楪od Save the King鈥 led by Comrade Bryan-Walsh and the marching off of the colours.

Article written by

Alicia McCutcheon
Alicia McCutcheon
Alicia McCutcheon has served as editor-in-chief of The Manitoulin Expositor and The Manitoulin West Recorder since 2011. She grew up in the newspaper business and earned an Honours B.A. in communications from Laurentian University, Sudbury, also achieving a graduate certificate in journalism, with distinction, from Cambrian College. Ms. McCutcheon has received peer recognition for her writing, particularly on the social consequences of the Native residential school program. She manages a staff of four writers from her office at The Manitoulin Expositor in Little Current.