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In Our Opinion: Names missing on cenotaph

Whose duty is it to update Prince Rupert’s cenotaph?
Photo of Prince Rupert troops readying for war was displayed at the 100th Anniversary Armistice Ball on Nov. 3. (Submitted)

This Sunday marks 100 years since end of the First World War, and the day of remembrance to honour those who perished in “the Great War”, and the many that followed.

When the ‘war to end all wars’ broke out in August 1914, Prince Rupert didn’t have an official military unit. Earl Grey’s Rifles, had recently disbanded that March. Businessman and politician, Cyrus ‘Cy’ Peck, whose memorial stone rests at Kwinitsa Station, was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 68th regiment. Peck and 125 men departed Prince Rupert by ship, followed by another 130 men some months later.

Men who volunteered were offered a wristwatch, cash and the railroad company offered them a job when and if they returned.

They joined the 102nd Battalion, and as the volunteers from northern B.C. grew they formed Company B, also known as the North British Columbians.

On April 9, 1917 they helped capture Vimy Ridge, where there is a memorial for the fallen from Company B.

Of the 1,050 who joined the North British Columbians, 676 never returned.

On Sunday, when we recognize Remembrance Day, or Armistice Day, and stand around the cenotaph at the courtyard, it’s also important to be aware that not all the names of fallen are represented on the stone monument.

This is common knowledge among local historians, and archivists, yet nothing has been done to etch the names deserving to be on our city’s cenotaph.

In Metlakatla, they have their own memorial plaque for John Rudland, Daniel Pearson, James Newell Leighton and Andrew James O’Reilly, to honour their service and their sacrifice.

Updating the cenotaph should have been the Legion’s job years, decades, ago, but now there is the newly formed Northwest Coast Veterans Association full of energy and determination after its recent black tie event.

With 100 years since Armistice Day, is it not time to find out exactly what names need to be added and remembered forevermore?

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