Birchwood students honour RCMP, veterans during ceremony

Ryan Ross
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Grade 7 student Rosie MacQuarrie had mixed emotions about taking part in a ceremony Monday that honoured veterans and the three fallen Moncton RCMP officers.

“I feel very grateful that I could participate,” she said, but added she was sad for the RCMP officers recently killed.

MacQuarrie said it made her feel safe to know they gave up their lives to protect others.

Monday’s Charlottetown ceremony was part of Birchwood Intermediate School’s Operation Gratitude, which helped students give back to the community by doing good deeds for others.

Fifty-seven of the school’s Grade 7 students trailed a bagpiper, a cadet in full uniform and classmates carrying flags as they walked several blocks from Birchwood Intermediate to the cenotaph outside Province House.

Once there, they fanned out around the monument where six RCMP officers in red serge and two Charlottetown police officers in dress uniform stood at attention.

The ceremony lasted about 15 minutes and saw students place plaques and wreaths at the cenotaph’s base to honour veterans.

Three of the students took turns walking up to the cenotaph, alongside an RCMP officer, as they laid a rose for each of the Mounties who were shot and killed in Moncton.

Cole Jarvis was one of the other students involved in the ceremony and said it was part of the students’ efforts to step up in the community.

“I think it’s truly amazing,” he said.

Even though the RCMP shootings were in another province, Jarvis said they showed how much people in the Maritimes came together to do what they could to help.

“It shows how much we care about each other,” he said.

For Birchwood Intermediate teacher Melanie Myers, she said walking up the street and seeing the police officers standing near the cenotaph gave her goose bumps.

“It was just an incredible sight that they would recognize that we wanted to say thank you.”

The students started Operation Gratitude in October when they held a candlelight vigil at Whisperwood Villa nursing home.

The language arts class has a unit called “step up” and the students came up with the idea of doing different things for the community.

Since then the class grew plants throughout the year, including geraniums they left at the cenotaph as part of their tribute to veterans and the fallen RCMP officers.

A school staff member also took some to veterans’ grave sights.

Myers said even though the ceremony was the last part of Operation Gratitude for this year, she hopes the students will continue to stop and recognize people who make a difference in their lives.

“It seems that they really came out of their comfort zone that way.”

rross@theguardian.pe.ca

Organizations: RCMP, Birchwood Intermediate School, Province House

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Moncton

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