With flags waving, firearms in hand and drums beating, hundreds of Canadian Armed Forces members marched down the streets of Regina Saturday afternoon during a Freedom of the City parade.
The event is a traditional ceremony with roots from England dating back to the 15th century.
Because of war at the time, cities were constantly under threat from different military units. Gates and walls were erected to bar entrance. Before entry, the Chief Constable would demand to know the reason why a military unit wished to come inside and would escort the soldiers in, forcing them to leave their weapons behind. If cities felt soldiers could be trusted, they would grant them ‘Freedom of the City’.
“This tradition is an important one in recognizing the relationship between our military and our local communities,” announced Brigadier-General Wayne Eyre.
“It’s the first time, certainly in Saskatchewan, that the Canadian Armed Forces came together and did a Freedom of the City. Typically it’s just one unit. Today you saw in parade seven different units,” explained Commanding Officer of the Royal Regina Rifles Lt.-Col Vic Sattler.
Troops from the army, navy and air force paraded around city hall. Guns were fired and jets from 15 Wing Moose Jaw flew overhead. Representatives from each unit then approached the front doors where they lightly tapped on the glass. Deputy Mayor Wade Murray opened the door, formally granting the freedom to enter.
“I thought it was quite neat that they reenacted that,” said Peter Havens after the event, who came to watch. “I think it’s a good demonstration of what’s available here.”
Murray and Saskatchewan’s Lieutenant-Governor Vaughn Solomon Schofield also walked up and down each troop carefully inspecting them before the Canadian Armed Forces members marched away to the sound of the band.
“We like to show our support for the troops. I think it’s important to remember all the great things they do. I think it’s something we should support as a Canadian citizen. Hopefully it’s something that we never need, but having that readiness makes me feel good,” explained Havens.
The event was part of Canadian Armed Forces appreciation day. An open house was held at the Regina Armoury along with a gala dinner.