Township officials, dignitaries, veterans and guests commemorated the official opening of Veterans Memorial Park in Sioux Narrows – Nestor Falls Saturday, June 29.
Located across Highway 71 from the North American Sport Fishing Centre, the park commemorates Canadian Forces men and women who served in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014.
The centre piece of Veterans Memorial Park is a Canadian Army LAV3 (light armoured vehicle), the eight-wheel drive multi-purpose machine used to transport personnel, supplies and equipment in Afghanistan.
The vehicle is one of 250 LAV3s declared surplus by the Canadian Forces and made available to communities and organizations across the country for memorials to Canadian veterans of Afghanistan.
Serving as master of ceremonies retired SN-NF fire chief and Honorary Lt. Col. of the 116th Independent Field Battery Woody Linton related the four year project to acquire the LAV3 and funding for Veterans Memorial Park.
Linton, learned of the memorial program, which the township council under former Mayor Gerry O’Leary agreed to pursue. The township undertook the $17,500 cost of decommissioning and transporting the LAV3 from London, Ont.
In addition to Linton, dignitaries speaking at the dedication included Sioux Narrows – Nestor Falls Mayor and Hon. Lt. Col. Norbert Dufresne, Kenora Mayor Dan Reynard and Kenora MP Bob Nault.
They reminded the assembled veterans and guests of the service and sacrifice of Canadian men and women in Afghanistan as well as two world wars and Korea.
“To remember them and to give thanks to those who gave their lives so we could be here together in this magnificent setting,” Linton related in his opening remarks.
Lt. Col. Robert Poirier, representing 38 Brigade Group, reviewed Canada’s 12-year military involvement in Afghanistan, which began in the weeks following the terror attack on New York and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001. Canada’s combat role ended in 2011 and Canadian troops concluded their advisory role, withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014.
The importance of the LAVs in Afghanistan was related by Lt. Col. Shawn Fortin, who as commanding officer of the 38th Canadian Brigade’s artillery group, served in the Kandahar war zone for seven months in 2009-10.
“We were always happy to have the LAV3 handy,” he said, noting the versatile vehicle could be equipped for a multitude of roles.
In addition to Lt. Col. Fortin, the dedication was attended by local veterans of Afghanistan: Sgt. Kevin Allard, W.O. Robin Everett and Lt. Col. (Ret.) Barb Gilles.
Other local veterans who also served include: Lt. Col. Dave Fraser, W.O. Shawn Fletcher and Pvt. Andrew Longe as well as five reservists of the 116th Independent Field Battery: Bdr. Todd Evans, Sgt. Ryan Scott, Bdr. Kevin Wiersema, M/Bdr. Colin LeBlanc and Bdr. Ryan Hawkins.
Keewatin resident George Storm, president of the Kenora chapter of the Canadian Army Veterans motorcycle riders Hindenberg Line, also attended the ceremony. His brother Cpl. Albert Storm and another Canadian soldier were killed in action aboard a LAV3 while providing security for a convoy of dignitaries. They intercepted a suicide bomber driving an explosive laden truck, which detonated on contact with their LAV killing both Canadians.