Unveiling ceremony for Lac Pelletier Métis veterans monument on Aug. 3
A longstanding project to honour 16 Métis war veterans from Lac Pelletier will finally reach its conclusion Aug. 3 with the unveiling and dedication ceremony of a veterans monument at Lac Pelletier Regional Park.
The project is an initiative of the Prairie Dog Métis Local 123 Association to keep the memory alive of those Métis men and women who left their families in Lac Pelletier Valley to serve Canada in the First and Second World War and the Korean War.
Prairie Dog Métis Local 123 President Cecile Blanke said the idea of a monument originated in 2005 when she organized a celebration to honour these veterans.
“It’s the biggest project that the Métis has ever undertaken in the southwest for this area and it’s the first Métis monument in an area where they come from,” she mentioned. “There’s going to be one at Batoche, but it’s not ready yet. But from what I believe, this is the first one that’s ever been done in Saskatchewan solely for the Métis.”
According to Blanke, there has been a positive response to this initiative and people believe it is a good idea to recognize the veterans in the area where they all had their roots.
“These veterans should never be forgotten and by us doing this it will teach the younger people what the wars were all about when they can see a plaque,” she said. “We’re making a log book that will be in the park and it will tell about each veteran, where they lived and where they came from and where they died, if we can find that out.”
All the Métis veterans who will be honoured through this monument survived the wars they participated in and the last one died three years ago. Blanke still remembers his words when she told him she was going to be laying a wreath at the Swift Current cenotaph.
“He said ‘When you go up there, you pray for me,’” she recalled. “I knew him really well and he was in his eighties. So when I went up there with the wreath it was hard for me not to cry, because I was thinking of him … the last surviving one of all these 16.”
She had a number of meetings with the Lac Pelletier Regional Park about a suitable site for the monument. She is pleased with the site’s very visible location just inside the park’s main entrance and right next to the road.
“They’ll see it from both directions because we’re going to have the flags up and we’re putting solar lights on all 16 posts around the monument, so it will light up at night,” she said.
The project received a significant boost in January when Veteran Affairs Canada’s Community War Memorial Program provided $22,575 in funding for the initiative. The remaining 50 per cent of the cost is covered through donations and fundraising efforts.
“The people have been very good to donate,” she said. “We got one big donation of $1,000.”
Blanke has been the driving force behind the project and she was also responsible for the monument’s design, which includes a Red River cart wheel as a prominent feature.
“The people got to Lac Pelletier by Red River cart,” she said. “The Métis people came there and lived there before 1900 and they came from the Red River … That’s why I thought the Red River cart was part of the ancestry of these soldiers.”
While the war memorial plaque will honour the 16 Métis war veterans, the monument will include various details to reflect the history of pioneers who settled and homesteaded in and around the Lac Pelletier valley.
“A lot of homesteaders was close to the lake, we’re including them,” she said. “There will be the name, the homestead numbers and a lot of the places are not there no more. So that’s what will be on the posts.”
The unveiling ceremony on Aug. 3 will start at 2 p.m. and everyone is welcome to attend. The special dedication program will include the Skyline Riders as flag bearers, a blessing and smudging ceremony and a six-member Métis honour guard.
The families of the 16 veterans will be laying wreaths and there will also be speeches by dignitaries. Afterwards supper, including traditional food such as bannock, will be served at the Lac Pelletier Hall and entertainment will be provided by the Trottier family.
via SW Sask News – Prairie Post – Prairie Post http://www.prairiepost.com/news/sw-sask/item/4616-unveiling-ceremony-for-lac-pelletier-metis-veterans-monument-on-aug-3.html