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The 8th Canadian Hussars have withdrawn the controversial gift of a Cougar armoured vehicle for installation in Sackville’s Memorial Park.

James Lockyer, the regiment’s honorary colonel, confirmed the donation had been withdrawn during a telephone interview on Saturday.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John Higham says he received a note from the Hussars Wednesday night that did not give specifics about why the gift was withdrawn.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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9 Responses to Hussars withdraw gift of armoured vehicle for Sackville’s Memorial Park amid concerns about its use during Oka Crisis

  1. Rima Azar says:

    On June 27, 2019, I submitted a Letter to the Editor of the Sackville Tribune about my support to our legion. My letter, which focuses on the Oka crisis, will appear in the July 3rd issue.

    This morning, I posted the following comment on CBC (

    Not only “we engage in genocide” but also in national suicide.

    This couple of vocal people do not represent the majority of (silent) citizens.

    They surely do NOT represent me and I am someone who grew up in civil war until age 17.

    I also doubt that they represent our 12,000 Indigenous Canadian veterans.

    When will this collective insanity stop?

  2. Carol Cooke says:

    Does anyone know the history around why this park was set up in the first place?

    Bruce Wark comments: Carol, the Tantramar Heritage Trust has published this information on the history of the park:

  3. David H. says:

    Please sign to show support for our Hussars. It may not change their decision (I hope it does) but it will show that the people of this town firmly stand with them and would appreciate their gift to our town and it’s memorial park.

    • Rima Azar says:

      Whether it would or would not change this political decision, I signed your petition. Thank you, David H. My reason for signing is simply to say: “Thank you to our veterans and their families!”.

      This whole sad story shows us how even good ideas that want to be noble and just, when pushed to the extreme, they become absurd and unfair.

      Had the soldiers’ service/work tool been music, we would have had a giant piano or a guitar as a monument in this Memorial park. Had it been related to ice cream making; we would have had a giant ice cream as a monument (I wish). The reality is that it is not. It is about war (military defence or attack, etc.) or… peace keeping. An armoured vehicle is what keeps them safe(r) on the job.

      Why can’t people who are too disturbed by this cougar ignore it instead of imposing on us all their own vision?

    • Louis says:

      I just went there. A lot of signatures already!
      Hmmm. Sackville must have a big Silent Majority.

      Please all remember to vote at the next municipal election!!!

      • Rima Azar says:

        I was curious and checked the petition again, which is called “Bring the Cougar to Sackville” by Mr. David H.

        It seems that “there have been 425 people who signed within 24 hours” (update by David H). He is right. The numbers do speak volume: 425 signatures within 24 hours only versus 60 signatures within a week for the other petition called ” Not In Our Park! Stop the Installation of a Second Armoured Vehicle” (by a certain Madeleine Smith).

        Amazing how politicians can sometimes be so out of touch with the majority of their population… and they call this democracy?

  4. Sharon Hicks says:

    I’m amazed at the great extent of ‘speculation’ by both Mayor Higham and Mr Thomas, when they present their personal views of what they ‘think’ must be the reasons the Hussars chose to withdraw their offer of the Cougar.

    Mr Thomas is young and perhaps inexperienced in such matters, but the Mayor is in a position to know better than to promote his own ideas as representing either the Council or the Hussars.

    I have pointed out instances in previous articles where the Mayor’s statements frequently have a tendency to be somewhat ‘questionable’, and this appears to be yet one more example of that unfortunate trend.

  5. Percy Best says:

    Such a sad ‘state of affairs’ that hangs over our “SACKVILLE, A NEW KIND OF SMALL TOWN”.

    Just a suggestion that if our Town, in the future, is somehow still able to acquire the Cougar, then it could be simply exchanged in the Memorial Park for the rusting Ferret. The Cougar could have a new concrete pad placed at the rear of the park, maybe with the existing anchor and the propeller placed to each side of it. The actual spot where the Ferret is now seems like such an ideal place for a memorial flower garden.

    When one looks at the Cenotaph from Bridge Street, the Ferret, with it’s bulk, seems to take predominance and blocks some of the view of the Cenotaph that must remain ‘forever’ the true ‘center of attention’ in OUR Memorial park.

  6. Harold says:

    Some background reading on what actually happened at Oka — “The CF deployment into the Oka quagmire was a domestic “Operation Other Than War” to restore “civil order.”” —

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