Edmonton soldier chosen to perform in national Remembrance Day ceremony

Article content

A Canadian Army member in Edmonton was chosen from nominees across the country to participate in a Remembrance Day ceremony in Canada’s capital.

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Known by his traditional name, swʔw̓ikist (pronounced sue-WEE-keest), Cpl. Justin George of the Penticton Indian Band has called Edmonton home since 2014. As a squadron maintenance representative with 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, his job is to ensure Canadian Forces’ vehicles are in working order for exercises, tasks and deployments.

But as of Nov. 5, George has been in Ottawa for drill practice as one of six Canadian Armed Forces’ members selected for the Remembrance Day sentry program, preparing to perform in a ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Thursday.

George, 36, describes the honour as one of the highlights of his career.

“I’m very humbled that my name was selected out of so many potential, incredible soldiers in the Canadian Army,” he said. “To have this honour — to be able to remember our fallen on this day in our nation’s capital — it’s just tremendous.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Created in 1998, the Remembrance Day sentry program recognizes exceptional members of both the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP. Nominations for the program come from across the country , but decisions are based on deployment experience, community involvement, physical fitness and record of conduct.

George’s nomination came from Major Nathan Korpal of the same regiment, based at the 3rd Canadian Division Support Base Edmonton.

“I recognized Cpl. George as a soldier that was highly committed to the regiment and the Canadian Army early in his career,” Korpal said in a statement to Postmedia. “He is someone who deserves recognition and is well selected to honour our fallen in the capital this Remembrance Day.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

Korpal said his decision was based on several factors, including George’s technical skills and leadership ability. But he highlighted the corporal’s compassion and commitment to Bold Eagle, the Forces’ six-week summer training program in Wainwright, Alta., 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton, for Indigenous people.

“It’s a combination of military teachings along with cultural teachings,” said George, who’s an instructor in the program.

A desire to help others, he adds, underlies his dedication to Bold Eagle, and led him to pursue volunteer work with the Edmonton Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity. It’s also what led him to join the military more than 10 years ago, he said.

“It was almost like an unspoken duty,” George explained. “I’ve always felt the need to help others, and the Canadian Armed Forces provided me with that.”

Advertisement

Story continues below

Article content

But the experience in the capital hasn’t been all work, and has come with a few perks. In the lead up to the ceremony George said he’s had the opportunity to visit the National War Museum in Ottawa, learn about Canadian military history, and even chat with the Canadian Army’s senior leadership.

“You always hear about these people,” George said. “Having the chance to sit down and talk to them — it meant a lot to me.”

On Remembrance Day, George added, he will also be thinking of veterans such his uncle and grandfather, as well as “countless cousins, family and friends” who are serving.

hissawi@postmedia.com

twitter.com/hamdiissawi

Advertisement

Story continues below

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Latest articles

Related articles