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