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Cenotaph group wants to grow

Meeting to discuss idea of memorial association

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A community group wants to form an association to help keep the memory of fallen First World War Métis soldiers from St. Norbert alive.


One key organizer is encouraging individuals to attend an upcoming meeting on April 12 at 7 p.m. at St. Norbert Community Centre (3450 Pembina Hwy.) with the goal of forming a St. Norbert Veterans Memorial Association.


The mandate of the association will be to maintain, preserve and promote a now-resurrected cenotaph in St. Norbert Cemetery and continue Remembrance Day services at the monument.


In 2009, area resident Art Bloomfield came up with the idea of restoring the then-neglected cenotaph and local volunteers and members of Still Bloomin’ Gardening Club — an arm of Pembina Active living (PAL 55+) — have worked to restore the limestone structure and its surrounding perennial garden ever since.


Last year’s Remembrance Day service was attended by more than 150 individuals — compared to 50 the year before — and organizers want to continue that momentum.


"Now we need a structure to move forward," said area resident Carolyn McIntyre.


"Our three main priorities are maintaining the cenotaph, promoting it — as so many people in St. Norbert are not aware of it — and honouring and recognizing the growing list of fallen soldiers."


"We need more organizers, helpers, input and support. We’re welcoming people to come out to the meeting, so we can decide on our direction," McIntyre added, noting Art Bloomfield, Verna Esslemont and Karen Moffat are also key campaigners.


Along with Larry Haag, Métis veteran historian Brian Cyr has been working tirelessly to research the background of fallen soldiers First World War Métis soldiers. There are currently 13 names on the cenotaph. Cyr said another 13 names have since been unearthed.


"We want to show the respect deserving to veterans," said Cyr, a military veteran and author of 2010’s Métis Veterans of Manitoba — From Buffalo to Battlefields, who also hopes to publish a booklet detailing the fallen soldiers in time for Remembrance Day.


As well as the soldiers, the south St. Vital resident said the positioning of the cenotaph also remains a curiosity.


"How did it get in that particular place, at the edge of the cemetery by the road. Was it moved because of flooding?" he said.


Cyr  hopes the upcoming meeting will also help generate some financial interest from outside parties to help the group move forward.


For more information, call Cyr at 895-8489 or abcyr@mymts.net.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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