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Cenotaph group tracing military roots

Military research grows as Nov. 11 ceremony garners increasing interest

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Members of a community group have been piecing together the history of St. Norbert’s fallen military heroes.


The St. Norbert Veterans Memorial Association will hold a Remembrance Day service on Sun., Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. at the now-resurrected cenotaph in St. Norbert Cemetery.


Part of the mandate of the association, which was officially formed in April 2012, is to maintain, preserve and promote the cenotaph and to continue Remembrance Day services at the monument.


The limestone cenotaph was restored after area resident Art Bloomfield came up with the idea three years ago while walking his grandson to school.


The cenotaph bears the names of 13 soldiers from St. Norbert who died in the First World War. Local Métis researchers Larry Haag and Brian Cyr, who is also SNVMA’s president, have been working on a book detailing those soldiers and 57 others who served in that war.


And since last year’s Remembrance Day ceremony, the pair has obtained a list of 14 fallen St. Norbert soldiers that served in the Second World War from Cy Ouimet, a retired school teacher and member of the Knights of Columbus. The plan is to eventually have those names also engraved on the cenotaph.


At the upcoming service, the names of the honoured soldiers will be read out by students from St. Norbert Collegiate and there will be appearances by Bev Betz, a trumpeter and band leader from the collegiate, and Don Byers, a piper from the Fort Garry Horse.


Cyr, who was raised in St. Norbert and lives in south St. Vital, is pleased the popularity of the group’s Remembrance Day ceremony continues to increase each year — not least because it keeps the memory alive for younger generations.


"I think it’s wonderful to see all the youth come out," said Cyr, a military veteran and author of 2010’s Métis Veterans of Manitoba — From Buffalo to Battlefields.


"It’s also great to see adults learning about what’s happening in their neighbourhood, especially considering St. Norbert was one of the first villages in Manitoba. It’s such a good thing to see people respecting veterans."


Area resident and key organizer Carolyn McIntyre said the association has been approached by several family members of the 13 First World War soldiers.


"Family members who didn’t know anything about it have started contacting us, which is exciting, such as the grandson and great-granddaughter of Jules Sewald," she said, noting how the association has expanded its reach beyond the First World War to "multi-wars with the commonality of St. Norbert."


Following the Nov. 11 ceremony, individuals are invited to Eagles Club 3870 (3459 Pembina Hwy.) for a meet-and-greet, which will include coffee, sandwiches and cookies, Cyr said.
For more details, visit www.abcyr.mymts.net.


simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

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