Mohawk Grand Chief speaks out against installing Cougar in Sackville’s Memorial Park

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon

The Grand Chief of the Mohawk First Nation at Kanesatake, Quebec is urging the 8th Canadian Hussars to stand by its decision to withdraw the gift of a Cougar armoured personnel carrier for display in Sackville’s Memorial Park.

Chief Serge Simon says the Cougar is not a fitting memorial to Hussars who died in the Second World War because it was never used in that conflict, but was used against his people during a standoff between Mohawks and the Canadian military during the Oka crisis of 1990.

When he was told that a petition is circulating in Sackville urging the Hussars to reconsider the decision to withdraw the Cougar, Simon said there are better choices.

“Why are they so headstrong about using an armoured personnel carrier as a symbol of, I don’t know, Canadian strength?” he asked. “Canadian oppression of First Nations people? What is your point when we have so many other options?”

During a telephone interview on Friday, the chief said he was already aware of the controversy after being alerted to it last month by a Mi’kmaq person. He added that he wrote a letter objecting to the gift on June 28.

Simon forwarded the letter to Warktimes.

“Many of us in Kanesatake still endure the memories of that summer almost 30 years ago and the effects of the human rights abuses our people suffered at the hands of Provincial and federal forces that are still apparent in our lives today,” his letter says.

“When the Canadian armed forces encircled our community with the help of the AVGP Cougar and closed in, it sent shock waves throughout First Nations territories, as the fear of a wider armed conflict could become a reality and throw us all in an uncertain future as a free society, let alone the image of force being used to further suppress the anger and frustration of First Nation people,” the letter adds.

The 78-day Oka crisis began after Mohawks objected to the extension of a golf course near their ancestral burying grounds on land they claim as their own.

Although Simon said the golf course was never built and the burying grounds are safe, the fight isn’t over.

“There’s still developments on our claimed land that are still going through that we’re trying to stop,” he said.

Mohawk war veterans

The Mohawk chief said two of his great uncles fought in the Second World War with one surviving both the Canadian raid on Dieppe and the D-Day invasion of Normandy while the other was “blown to pieces” in the Italian campaign.

“Our people fought in your army, in all the conflicts since the first [European] contact,” he said referring to Mohawk support for the British in their colonial wars against the French.

“If my uncles were still around today, they would probably be pretty ashamed of the Canadian government and military for their part in the Oka crisis,” Simon added.

His letter says a more fitting symbol to honour war veterans could be a sculpture reflecting peace.

“It could be a giant poppy with ‘never again on foreign or domestic soil’ carved in its base, as well as one feather on the helmet or bonnet of one of the sculpted soldiers of the 8th Hussars…I think my great uncles would be proud to stand beside both the symbol and their brother Warriors as well as recognizing it as a good symbol of reconciliation in this country,” the letter says.

Mi’kmaq support?

The Mohawk chief responded to Mi’kmaq peacekeeping veteran Allan Dobson’s presentation Tuesday night at town council during which he said the town should be listening to the Mi’kmaq of the Fort Folly First Nation who support installing a Cougar in Memorial Park.

“The Mi’kmaq down there are the ones who alerted us to this,” Simon said. “Obviously not everybody is in favour,” he added. “If I were to speak to the Mi’kmaq chiefs and let them know how we feel, they would change their position.”

Simon also responded to the argument that the military were using the Cougar at Oka to restore peace.

“The army was used on Canadian soil to suppress the land grievances of a particular First Nation,” he said, adding that the way to restore peace would have been to deal with the centuries-old conflict over land rights instead of calling in the Quebec police (SQ) and the military.

He recalled that many Mohawks were beaten by the SQ both during and after the crisis including his cousin who had an electric prod applied to his genitals.

“I saw Angus maybe a week later and I couldn’t believe how he was walking and I asked him ‘What the heck happened to you?’ He explained it to me and then he showed me,” Simon said. “I didn’t think a man’s scrotum could swell that bad.”

Simon, who was 27 at the time of the Oka crisis, said he was driving his mother home from the hospital when the military detained them for two hours at a check point.

“My mother got fed up,” he said. “She opened the car door and said ‘the hell with this, I’m going home.’ They pointed an M16 at her.”

Better choices

Simon said he sent a copy of his letter to Harjiit Sajjan, the Minister of National Defence.

“I’m hoping that maybe the minister, hopefully before the election, might be able to take it to his cabinet and see if there is any way that we can dedicate some funding for a proper symbol of peace and harmony and reconciliation,” he added.

“I think the citizens around that area, around that town, the Mi’kmaq and the Canadian citizens would be very happy. I think if they worked together, it’s an opportunity where we could get together, really put our minds in there and do something significant,” Simon said.

“I’m not pushing my views on anyone. I’m just saying that I’m a little disappointed and I’m hoping that better minds will prevail.”

To read Grand Chief Serge Simon’s letter, click here.

To see an historic timeline of the Oka crisis posted on the McGill University website, click here.

Posted in Town of Sackville | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Sackville councillors hear pros and cons of Cougar memorial at packed town hall meeting

It was standing room only at Sackville Town Council Tuesday night as about 100 people turned out to hear presentations for and against installing an armoured military vehicle known as a Cougar in Memorial Park.

Alex Thomas, who led the opposition to the Cougar, told council he didn’t think he was the only one surprised at how nasty and divisive the debate became both before and after the 8th Canadian Hussars decided to withdraw their gift of the Cougar in response to opposition to it.

“I also want to acknowledge that a lot of people in this room are angry — angry about the decision of the Hussars to withdraw their gift,” he said. “In a lot of cases that anger is directed at me or directed at other community members who have been opposing the Cougar.”

Thomas suggested that he understood the anger because “different symbols evoke different things for different people” and he urged both sides to come together on shared values rather than things that foster division.

Alex Thomas addresses council

Thomas said those opposed to the Cougar feel that a massive war machine would dwarf other monuments and minimize the Cenotaph’s central role in a small park that is meant to be a place of serene contemplation.

He argued that for some, the Cougar is a symbol of oppression because of its use in the prolonged standoff between the Canadian military and Mohawks during the Oka crisis of 1990.

“We live in an era where all institutions are beginning to ask difficult questions about Canada’s colonial past and how reconciliation can be achieved between settler Canadians and the original people of this land,” he said.

He ended by recommending that the town facilitate the formation of a citizen’s committee to help make decisions about memorials in the park.

“It is our understanding that such a committee formerly existed in Sackville, and that reviving it would help prevent this kind of divisiveness in the future by helping better define how the park could be used and developed,” Thomas said.

Cougar as a trigger

Next, Scott Timpa, a retired, disabled veteran urged town council not to install a Cougar in Memorial Park partly because it would serve as a recruiting tool for young people to join the military.

“It will sit there as an idol up on its cement pedestal and I am sure some young person is going to come along and say, ‘yeah that’s cool, I want to be a soldier,'” he added.

Timpa, who served more than 13 years in the military including in Afghanistan, bitterly pointed to court decisions establishing that the federal government has no legal obligation or “duty of care” toward injured soldiers.

“I firmly believe disabled veterans are being oppressed, divided, not treated equally,” he said.

Retired war vet Scott Timpa

“I ask everyone in this room, do you want your sons and daughters joining the military knowing that they have no duty of care to look after them when they are physically and, or mentally injured?” he asked.

Timpa said that aside from physical injuries and chronic pain, he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after spending five years in the back of a light armoured vehicle that is similar to the Cougar.

Although armoured vehicles provide safety, they also became death traps “on the streets of Kandahar, easy prey for the Taliban and a well-placed bomb,” he said.

“I’ve seen what a bomb blast does to a human body if you happen to be sitting inside one of these things,” he added. “I can smell and taste the blood and I probably always will.”

Timpa said he moved to Sackville from Halifax because there is no military base here to trigger his PTSD.

“When I lived in Halifax, it was a constant trigger seeing the navy ships in the harbour, all the military personnel walking around in uniforms or military aircraft constantly flying overhead,” he said, adding that seeing a military vehicle such as a Cougar also serves as a trigger.

“I hear the sounds of the cannons. I smell the exhaust fumes, the dust, the grease and I think about the people I knew who were killed in them,” he said.

“Therefore, I implore you, please to not accept this armoured vehicle as a gift.”

‘Mi’kmaq territory, not Mohawk’

Allan Dobson who spoke next, identified himself as a veteran who served in military peacekeeping missions for 15 years. He pointed to the more than century-long association between the town and the 8th Canadian Hussars.

“As a veteran, I’m honoured that the 8th Hussars offered us the Cougar,” he said.

Allan Dobson speaks on behalf of the Sackville legion

Dobson, who is a status Mi’kmaq living on the Fort Folly Reserve near Dorchester, said he was speaking on behalf of the Sackville branch of the Royal Canadian Legion where he’s been a member for more than 20 years.

He added that he was also speaking for Rebecca Knockwood, chief of the Fort Folly Reserve.

When he served during a Canadian peacekeeping mission in Somalia, Dobson said he saw the Cougar as a protector.

“We were going through, I’m going to say this, Indian country, downtown Mogadishu in convoys, open trucks,” he said, adding that the convoys were protected by Cougars.

“I was never in a Cougar, but I had the protection, they had my back [and] downtown Mogadishu was no place to be without somebody having your back.”

He said that while he sympathizes with Timpa’s experiences, he has a different perspective, adding that every time he passes by the M113 armoured personnel carrier on display in College Bridge near Dorchester, he sees it as an “old friend, an old protector.”

Dobson acknowledged that Cougars were used during the Oka crisis when governments requested the military’s help in restoring order under the National Defence Act after Quebec police had lost complete control. He suggested that without the military’s help things could have been a lot worse.

He also questioned the argument that indigenous people would object to a Cougar being displayed in Sackville’s Memorial Park.

“I talked to the Chief Rebecca Knockwood,” he said. “I asked her, did she express any opinion. She said no. There was no opinion expressed on behalf of Fort Folly First Nation to anybody.”

Sackville Legion President Doreen Richards with veteran Allan Dobson (L) and First Vice President Alf Walker

Dobson went on to say he didn’t know how some people in town perceived that the indigenous community would be upset by the gift of a Cougar.

“Where did that come from? he asked. “It didn’t come from Fort Folly and Fort Folly should be the ones you guys should be talking to,” he added. “This is Mi’kmaq territory, not Mohawk.”

He ended by saying that the local legion stands by the town’s acceptance of a Cougar for Memorial Park.

He said that branch President Doreen Richards would be willing to discuss incorporating the Cougar into a peacekeeping memorial that would honour indigenous people as well as veterans of the war in Afghanistan.

“This is something we can work out between all of us, but we still stand upon having the Cougar,” Dobson said.

Incivility and poor fact checking

After the presentations, Councillor Bill Evans condemned what he termed incivility in the ongoing debate over the Cougar.

“I don’t participate in social media, not because it isn’t a place where you can share things with families and friends, but because too often it’s a place where licence to act anonymously and without restraint leads to some pretty intemperate excesses,” Evans said.

Coun. Bill Evans

He accused people participating in debate on Facebook of failing to get their facts straight especially when criticizing town council.

“Council voted unanimously to accept the gift of the Cougar and no member of council that I am aware of has indicated that they want to refuse it,” he  said.

“Yet council has been pilloried individually, publicly and on social media for being despicable cowards for allegedly having done so,” he added.

“It’s one thing to have people tell you that they think you’re wrong when you vote on an issue, but surely the critic has an obligation to at least know how we voted.”

Evans acknowledged that “some logistical questions came up about how to implement the decision and then, the poop hit the fan.” He was referring to council’s decision to postpone installation of the Cougar after residents began objecting to it.

“The problem was created by poor fact checking and incivility,” he added. “It was not what the Hussars nor the town wanted. The Hussars said, ‘let’s stop this, let’s cool down and see if we can’t work something out’ and I concur.”

Evans concluded by saying the town is neither caving in to pressure, nor bulldozing ahead, but is trying to do the right thing.

“Let’s not let the poor behaviour of a few define our community,” he said. “This park belongs to all the citizens of Sackville and it’s our job as councillors to do, not what we want personally, but what we think is in the best interests of the entire municipality.”

Shame and division

Next, Councillor Allison Butcher said she also felt the need to speak. She said council decided to postpone installation of the Cougar to give constituents a chance to make presentations.

“And then, as you are all aware, things went off the rails,” she said. “There were media reports that went national, most of them portraying this whole process in less than a flattering light.”

Coun. Allison Butcher

Butcher said social media were “full of misinformation and speculation…and people got upset.”

She added that Sackville’s reputation was hurt not because of the issue itself, “but because of the shameful way that it divided us. It’s pitted neighbour against neighbour, people said horrible things about each other.”

Butcher said one of the community’s strengths is its diversity and the ability to live and work together.

Her voice shaking with emotion, she added: “I have been deeply ashamed by the divisive, unaccepting way that many have chosen to respond to people whose opinions are different from theirs. We are better than this.”

Butcher ended by saying she hopes the town and the Hussars can come to an agreement on a proper memorial.

“I look forward to the end of all of the arguing and the beginning of a collaboration that can showcase our community’s strength and its diversity” she said.

Cougar belongs in park

Councillor Joyce O’Neil said that in her 16 years on town council, nothing has upset or disgusted her more than the opposition to the Cougar in Memorial Park.

“Our Memorial Park is just that, a place to honour and remember those brave folk that gave their all and continue to serve so that we can live lives such as we enjoy today,” she said.

Coun. Joyce O’Neil

O’Neil added that Sackville has been blessed with the role the Hussars have played here.

“When the Armouries was here, they took in young people, taught them values and they joined the militia and they showed them how to grow into men and the kind of citizens they are today,” she said.

O’Neil said the park is “a very solemn place for me as the second name that appears on the World War Two plaque is my uncle who was a member of the 8th Canadian Hussars armoured division.” She added that both her husbands and an uncle served in the military.

“To me, the Cougar is a symbol of the 8th Canadian Hussars service as peacekeepers and it deserves a place in that Memorial Park,” she said.

O’Neil received sustained cheers and applause as she concluded: “I encourage the 8th Canadian Hussars to re-offer the Cougar to our town and for our council and citizens to gratefully accept and display the Cougar with pride.”

Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, filling in for Mayor Higham who was away on business, ended the discussion by saying that council would be considering the issue further.

“We have a lot of talking to do about it I think, in light of what we’ve heard tonight,” he said.

He invited residents to e-mail the town or ask questions during the public question period at council’s next meeting on July 8th.

To read earlier coverage of council’s decision to accept the gift of the Cougar last February, click here.

To read coverage of council’s decision to postpone installation of the Cougar, click here.

To listen to the presentations as well as opening remarks by Deputy Mayor Ron Aiken, click here.

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Hussars withdraw gift of armoured vehicle for Sackville’s Memorial Park amid concerns about its use during Oka Crisis

James Lockyer

The 8th Canadian Hussars have withdrawn the controversial gift of a Cougar armoured vehicle for installation in Sackville’s Memorial Park.

James Lockyer, the regiment’s honorary colonel, confirmed the donation had been withdrawn during a telephone interview on Saturday.

He said the Cougar was a way of memorializing Sackville’s long relationship with the Hussars’ C Squadron as well as the regiment’s role in the liberation of Europe during the Second World War.

“But by the same token, any memorialization doesn’t have to be focussed on a given item, in this case the Cougar,” Lockyer said.

He added that the regiment has proposed setting up a committee with representation from the Hussars, the town and perhaps a military historian to examine how best to memorialize a relationship that lasted more than a century.

“The regiment put forward that proposal and the town accepted it,” Lockyer said.

He refused to respond to suggestions that the Cougar would not be a fitting memorial because of its use against Mohawks during the Oka Crisis in 1990.

“I don’t respond to that,” he said. “Again, the vehicle was intended to memorialize the liberation of Europe by members of the 8th Hussars.”

What is Memorial Park for?

Cenotaph in Sackville’s Memorial Park honours the dead in the two World Wars and the Korean War

Mayor John Higham says he received a note from the Hussars Wednesday night that did not give specifics about why the gift was withdrawn.

“Just in general terms [it said] that they were concerned about some of the difficulties that had arisen from their donation,” Higham said in a telephone interview.

He added that he expects that criticisms over the use of the Cougar during the Oka Crisis were among the difficulties the note referred to.

A statement on the town’s website says:

…we have received feedback from the community reflecting a number of different perspectives on this donation, including those of the indigenous community. After hearing these perspectives, the Hussars made the decision to withdraw the donation and offered to explore alternative ways to memorialize the special relationship between the Hussars and the Town.

Mayor Higham says the real question now is what happens next.

“My advice to council will be that we should clarify what that park is for, how we expect it to run and what we think is appropriate for being in there, so that this kind of debate won’t happen in the future,” he said.

No winners or losers

Alex Thomas led opposition to installation of Cougar

Alex Thomas, who raised the issue of the Cougar’s use at Oka, says he hopes the Hussars make a full statement soon giving the reasons for withdrawing their gift.

During an interview Saturday, he added that he believes the regiment acted because of revelations about the oppression of indigenous people that came out of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“I think the Hussars should really be commended here,” he said. “I think they’re acting in the spirit of reconciliation realizing, OK we didn’t see this and we made a mistake, but in the spirit of reconciliation, we are going to make a change and I think that is a great way forward and a great lead to follow.”

Thomas added that he’s not declaring victory now that it’s clear the Cougar won’t be installed in Memorial Park.

“I don’t think there’s winners and losers here. I think this is a chance for us to come together as a community and talk about our park,” he said.

Thomas says his group still plans to make a presentation to town council on July 2nd about the need for a citizens’ committee that would discuss plans for the future of Memorial Park.

Cougar belongs in park

Doreen Richards, President of Branch 26, Sackville Legion standing next to Ferret military vehicle in Memorial Park

“Im really upset, I really am, I’m really upset about it,” Doreen Richards, president of the Sackville branch of the Royal Canadian Legion said during an interview.

She added she was hoping Sackville would get the Cougar because the town deserves it.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of disappointed people in Sackville,” Richards said.

“I know Sackville’s behind us,” she added. “There’s just a handful that aren’t.”

She said the Cougar belongs in the park.

“It’s a Memorial Park, it’s a park for putting these things into,” Richards said. “A lot of children enjoy looking at them. It’s their heritage really and it’s history.”

When asked about the use of the Cougar during the Oka Crisis, Richards said the armoured vehicles were there, but weren’t used.

“The machines were behind the soldiers,” she added. “They were there just in case, but nothing came of it.”

Richards said the legion will also be making a presentation to town council next Tuesday.

To read earlier coverage of James Lockyer’s original presentation to town council in February, click here.

For information from Tantramar Heritage Trust on the history of Sackville’s Memorial Park, click here.

To read a detailed history of the 8th Canadian Hussars complete with archival photos, click here.

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Sackville Waterfowl Park celebrated as environmental gem on its 30th anniversary

Mt. A. President Jean-Paul Boudreau (L), MLA Megan Mitton and Mayor John Higham spoke during 30th anniversary celebrations of the Sackville Waterfowl Park

Sackville celebrated the 30th anniversary of its Waterfowl Park on Saturday with speeches, music, a short play, birthday cake and hotdogs.

“Having the Waterfowl Park in Sackville has shaped my life,” MLA Megan Mitton told the crowd that had gathered for the event near the park entrance off Mallard Drive.

Mitton mentioned that she once worked for the Tantramar Wetlands Centre, across the highway from the Waterfowl Park.

“Even though I’m not a biologist, I do know quite a bit about the value of wetlands,” she said. “It’s really exciting to see how our community has embraced having the Sackville Waterfowl Park right in the centre and to see it still growing.”

She remembered that when she was a child, a duck was the park’s mascot while the benches downtown still have duck heads as arm rests and ducks adorn some town crosswalks.

“It’s amazing how integrated into our lives and into our community the Waterfowl Park is,” Mitton added. “It’s such a gem for our town and our region.”

Marshview’s environmental warriors

Mayor John Higham said Mitton’s speech reminded him of how Sackville values the environment and the ecology that goes with it.

The mayor noted the long history of the Waterfowl Park, then mentioned that only last week, “The Mighty Earth Warriors” environmental group at Marshview Middle School won a national competition sponsored by a non-profit organization called Learning for a Sustainable Future.

Among other things, Marshview was recognized for its campaign against single-use plastics and for its success in getting a 3-stream waste system in Sackville’s schools.

Higham suggested the Marshview students’ concern for the environment is linked to respect for the landscape, respect fostered by the natural beauty of the area including its iconic Waterfowl Park.

Adam Campbell of Ducks Unlimited

Adam Campbell of Ducks Unlimited told the crowd that he became a wetland biologist partly because of the Waterfowl Park.

“My first summer job was as a Waterfowl Park interpretative guide,” he said. “My eyes were opened to the variety of species that call wetlands home.”

Campbell said he ended up falling in love with his future wife who also worked as a guide.

“This may be a bit of a stretch, but my youngest daughter Anna’s middle name is actually Teal,” he said to laughter. “I fought for it to be her first name, but I don’t always get my way.”

Campbell said Ducks Unlimited plans to replace and upgrade the water control structure in the park in the next few years and will continue to invest in the project indefinitely.

Mt. A. President Jean-Paul Boudreau

Mount Allison’s new President Jean-Paul Boudreau reminded the audience that the university made the Waterfowl Park possible. (The university leases land it owns in the southern portion of the park to the town for $1 per year.)

Boudreau added that the park is an important part of life for Mt. A. students who spend a lot of time there.

“In fact, when they leave, it’s one of the things they cite as something they will miss about Sackville,” Boudreau said, adding that the university also uses the park as part of its experiential learning programs.

“What better place than a waterfowl park to get into the marsh, to get into the water, dig in see what kinds of critters you can find, what kinds of ducks you can spot and birds,” he said.

Boudreau said the park contributes to the health and well being of the community both physically and mentally.

“I’m also a psychologist and I care about the relationship between mind, body and environment so I think we’ve got a real gem here in our backyard.”

Sandy Burnett, member of the  Waterfowl Park Advisory Committee

Later, Sandy Burnett recalled how he, Al Smith and Paul Bogaard pushed for a wetlands park that had originally been suggested by the aptly named Jim Sackville, a design consultant from Sussex the town had commissioned to draft a strategic plan.

Burnett recalled that the town was skeptical of the idea.

He said that more than 30 years later the park has become a symbol for the town, which nobody foresaw at the time.

“No, I don’t think we did at first, but it became evident very quickly,” Burnett says. “Within about two or three years of the opening of the park, it had won a national environmental award and was recognized by the Governor General’s office and suddenly we realized that what we had spawned was going in directions that we hadn’t really considered at all.”

Burnett says he has complicated feelings now that the park has turned 30. For one thing, he feels immense gratitude toward all the people who worked on the project over many years.

“The other thing that gives me pleasure every time that I visit the park is to see other people enjoying it and realize that what we started out thinking would be a good demonstration  conservation project has turned into a significant part of the life of the whole town.”

To read original plans for the Waterfowl Park, click here.

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Sackville legion president ‘disgusted’ by vandalism in Memorial Park

Doreen Richards, President of Branch 26 of the Royal Canadian Legion standing next to the painted-over Ferret armoured military vehicle

The Sackville detachment of the RCMP is trying to find out who spray painted lewd images of penises on both sides and the top of an armoured military vehicle last weekend in the town’s Memorial Park.

Alf Walker, first vice-president of the Sackville branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, reported the vandalism to the RCMP about 11 o’clock Saturday morning and a town crew was soon dispatched to paint over it.

Legion President Doreen Richards says she’s disgusted that someone would commit such an act.

“I was pretty upset about it,” she adds. “People should have more respect for anybody’s property, let alone the veterans’.”

Richards, who has served as president of the Sackville legion since 2012, firmly rejects any suggestion that putting military equipment in Memorial Park glorifies war.

“It’s history,” she says. “Our fathers, grandfathers, uncles all fought for us and we should respect that.”

She suggests that the military exhibits in the park are useful for teaching younger people about the sacrifices made in war by previous generations.

Legion supports Cougar donation

Richards says the legion strongly supports displaying an armoured vehicle known as a Cougar in the park.

“We’re kind of excited that it’s coming,” she says, adding that the Cougar was a military service vehicle useful for rescuing people from floods and fires.

In February, town council voted to accept a Cougar as a donation from the 8th Canadian Hussars, a regiment that was closely associated with Sackville from 1848 until 1997.

After an outcry from people opposed to installing the Cougar in Memorial Park, the mayor and councillors agreed to hear presentations on the issue at their next meeting on July 2nd.

Richards says the legion will be making a presentation of its own.

“I’m going to fight to get this put in the park,” she promises. “From what I’ve heard around town and different places, everybody is for it. There’s just a handful of people that don’t want it,” she says.

“I think it’s a great thing.”

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Unveiling of Lund monument highlights 30th anniversary celebration of Waterfowl Park

Kenneth Lund (L) and Mayor Higham unveil monument to Daniel Lund as Al Smith looks on

Mayor John Higham and Kenneth Lund officially dedicated Daniel Lund Park on Saturday as part of the 30th anniversary celebration of the Sackville Waterfowl Park.

They unveiled a monument to Daniel Lund, who assembled nearly 20 acres of marsh, meadow and woodland that he willed to the town on his death in 2013 under the federal Ecological Gifts Program.

Lund’s younger brother, Kenneth, spoke to about 75 people who had gathered for the dedication ceremony. He said that Daniel originally planned to erect a heritage windmill on the site. The windmill would have been in honour of his grandfather, who fought in the American Civil War before becoming a lumberman.

“A windmill would have been marvellous,” Kenneth Lund said, “but I think and he thought too that a much better result was to have this as part of Sackville’s marvellous and wondrous Waterfowl Park.”

Daniel Lund’s bequest expands the area of the 55-acre Waterfowl Park by more than a third.

Childhood memories

Kenneth Lund remembered how 80 years ago, he and Daniel and their friends played in the woods and meadows that were then owned by the Doncaster, Campbell and Wheaton families, and how his brother bought the land they had loved as children.

“And so, it is with feelings of great pleasure that I think of these lands,” Lund said, “meadows and grassland, uplands, such as you’re standing on, and land with trees that love to have their feet in the water, to add to and give a much wider habitat and walking area for the people of this community.”

Daniel Lund monument near TransCanada Highway showing heritage windmill (click to enlarge)

New trail

Al Smith, who serves on the Waterfowl Park Advisory Committee, said that this summer, the town will build a walkway leading from the Lund monument to a new bridge connecting with the TransCanada trail that runs through the Waterfowl Park.

Louise MacKinnon, outgoing president of the Sackville Rotary Club, presented a cheque for $25,200 to Mayor Higham to pay for construction of the bridge.

Meantime, Smith said that next year, there are plans to build a trail in Daniel Lund Park through “some pretty interesting woodland habitat with fairly mature aspen and oak trees” to connect with the park entrance just off Squire Street.

“That will add a huge dimension to the Waterfowl Park that will certainly be very much valued by birders,” Smith added.

He said that in two years, the committee hopes a small rain shelter with interpretative signage will be built near the monument as a final addition to Daniel Lund Park.

Louise MacKinnon and fellow Rotarians presenting cheque to Mayor Higham

Last August, town council approved spending $15,000 partly to restore an old trail Daniel Lund himself had built. The trail, called Dan’s Way, leads to the Lund monument from a small parking area on Squire Street.

For earlier coverage, click here.

Posted in Environment, Town of Sackville | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Sackville postpones installing military vehicle in Memorial Park after residents voice opposition

Cougar armoured vehicles maneuvre in a field during a military exercise in Alberta. Cougars, which were equipped with a 76mm gun and a 7.62mm machine gun, were in service from 1976 until 2005

Mayor John Higham has directed town staff to postpone installing an armoured military vehicle known as a Cougar in Sackville’s Memorial Park until town council hears from people who are speaking up against the installation.

Higham says most councillors agreed to the postponement until they hear any new information the opponents may present at town council’s next meeting on July 2nd.

“Although I’m not a jaded politician, I know every topic has multiple views,” the mayor said during a telephone interview. “It’s always a question of, have we heard everybody yet and if we haven’t, what have we missed?” he added.

“We’re seeing some very strongly held opinions on both sides of this equation, which is a little bit unusual, but not to be unexpected when it deals with remembering people who passed away in the armed forces in our service,” Higham said.

Legion will be heard too

Mayor John Higham

The mayor mentioned that the Sackville Legion will also make a presentation to council on July 2nd.

Council agreed to accept the Cougar in February after defeating a motion by Councillor Shawn Mesheau to postpone the decision for a month pending consultation with the Legion.

Mayor Higham says that when he and town staff met separately with two senior executives of the Legion soon after the decision in February, the executives were quite happy to have the Cougar installed in the park as a memorial to soldiers who died in the Second World War and as a symbol of Sackville’s once close relationship with the 8th Canadian Hussars, a reserve armoured regiment.

The Hussars C Squadron and its regimental band were based in Sackville until 1997.

Cougar’s the wrong symbol

Sackville resident Alex Thomas, who helped organize a protest against installing the Cougar in Memorial Park (see CBC coverage here) says he’s very much in favour of commemorating the contributions of the 8th Hussars in the Second World War.

“We don’t feel that this modern machine of warfare adequately and accurately memorializes those men who served,” Thomas says. “It actually serves to glorify war rather than to reflect and honour those who served.”

Cenotaph in Sackville’s Memorial Park honours war dead. Opponents to the Cougar call the cenotaph a more fitting memorial to the fallen

Thomas explains that the 55 Hussars who died in Italy and the eight who died in other parts of Western Europe during the Second World War did not use Cougars, so it’s the wrong memorial for that era.

Thomas points out that the most recent use of this armoured vehicle was during the Oka crisis of 1990. He adds that a lot of Canadians look back on that use with shame.

“I think there’s a lot of human rights violations that have been identified coming out of the Oka crisis and in this age of reconciliation, I really think we need to be careful that we’re not putting symbols of indigenous oppression on pedestals in our parks,” Thomas says.

‘Wrong message’

Peter Higham, whose house on Squire Street is adjacent to Memorial Park, says installing a gigantic Cougar war machine sends the wrong message.

“It’s too close to the glorification of war rather than remembering and being aware of the futility of war,” he says, adding that exhibits in the park already represent the various branches of the armed services.

Peter Higham standing next to the Vimy oak sapling that would be dwarfed by the Cougar

Higham points out that the Cougar is nearly four times the size of the armoured vehicle, known as a Ferret, that the Hussars donated in 1994.

He argues that the cenotaph, not machines that belong in a war museum, should be the focal point of the park.

Higham also notes that plans originally called for the Cougar to be placed beside a Vimy Ridge oak sapling that the Sackville Rotary Club planted in 2017.

“The sapling represents a kind of rebuilding, a regeneration rather than the negative aspects that are associated with these vehicles,” he says.

“I also consider that putting yet another war machine in the park is sending out the wrong message to any visitors to the town,” he adds, “and I think it could be taken very negatively by First Nations as well.”

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