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Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles mark 135th an­niver­sary with com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice at re­fur­bished Me­mo­rial

Winnipeg Sun - - FRONT PAGE - GLEN DAWKINS

The Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles marked the reg­i­ment’s 135th an­niver­sary Satur­day with a com­mem­o­ra­tion ser­vice at the re­fur­bished and ex­panded Ri­fles Me­mo­rial at Vimy Ridge Me­mo­rial Park in Winnipeg.

Dig­ni­taries, past and present mem­bers of the reg­i­ment and cit­i­zens braved the cold for the ser­vice which in­cluded the of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion and un­veil­ing of the reg­i­ment’s Legacy Stones project. Dig­ni­taries in­cluded the Lieu­tenant Governer of Man­i­toba Jan­ice Fil­mon, Mayor Brian Bow­man and rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the pro­vin­cial and fed­eral gov­ern­ments.

“It’s a great day for the reg­i­ment,” said Ma­jor-gen­eral (Re­tired) Den­nis Tab­ber­nor of The Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles Reg­i­men­tal Se­nate, which spear­headed the ef­fort to re­fur­bish the me­mo­rial and cre­ate the Legacy Stones project. “To be able to un­veil a brand-new me­mo­rial that will be here for­ever and to rec­og­nize the sol­diers who have served in the reg­i­ment and those who will serve is a great day for the unit.”

The Winnipeg-based Re­serve In­fantry Unit is the old­est in­fantry reg­i­ment in Western Canada. dat­ing back to the North­west Re­bel­lion in 1883. The unit’s mem­bers have seen ser­vice in the Boer War in South Africa, both World Wars as well as peace­keep­ing op­er­a­tions in Cyprus, Croatia and Bos­nia and the war against ter­ror­ism in Afghanistan.

“I think it’s im­por­tant that we re­new these mon­u­ments reg­u­larly,” said Tab­ber­nor. "The orig­i­nal stone (of the Ri­fles Me­mo­rial) that was put up there a cou­ple of decades ago and it was start­ing to show its age but we were able to get it re­fur­bished.

“It’s very im­por­tant that we re­new (mon­u­ments) so that we can re­mem­ber what came be­fore us.”

"(The Ri­fles Me­mo­rial) marks a point of re­mem­brance and a tribute to those of the past, those of the present and those of the fu­ture and cer­tainly to those who have paid the ul­ti­mate sac­ri­fice,” said the reg­i­ment’s com­mand­ing of­fi­cer Lieu­tenant Colonel Den­nis Desrochers.

“It’s crit­i­cally im­por­tant be­cause it serves as a re­minder and it also en­gages the next gen­er­a­tion, the new sol­diers in that as­pect of en­sur­ing that re­mem­brance is some­thing that is al­ways first and fore­most and the sac­ri­fice of all those who par­tic­i­pated in the var­i­ous wars and con­flicts of which the Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles were a part.”

De­spite the cold, close to 150 peo­ple turned out for the com­mem­o­ra­tion. "(I’m) not sur­prised (at the turnout) at all,” said Desrochers. “We’ve gen­er­ally en­joyed very good sup­port from the com­mu­nity, from the city and from all mem­bers here at large. I’m glad to see on this cold morn­ing that we had a good num­ber of peo­ple out to sup­port the un­veil­ing on the Legacy Stone project and the Me­mo­rial here at Vimy Ridge Park.”

The Legacy Stone Project was a three-year un­der­tak­ing by The Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles Reg­i­men­tal Se­nate as a way to rec­og­nize those that have served with the Reg­i­ment. Cor­po­ra­tions and or­ga­ni­za­tions as well as in­di­vid­u­als pur­chased the close to 300 Legacy Stones.

“At one point, there was a bit of con­cern that we weren’t go­ing to be able to do what we wanted to do but we per­se­vered and we’re here to­day,” said Tab­ber­nor.

CHRIS PRO­CAYLO/WINNIPEG SUN PHO­TOS

Re­tired Ma­jor-gen­eral Den­nis Tab­ber­no­rof the Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles Reg­i­men­tal Se­nate, right, speaks with mem­bers of the reg­i­ment at the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony of the reg­i­ment’s Legacy project.

A mem­ber of the Royal Winnipeg Ri­fles at­tends the un­veil­ing cer­e­mony yes­ter­day at Vimy Ridge Me­mo­rial Park.

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