Written by By Lieutenant McNeely, 12 Field Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment
(Originally published in Canadian Army at http://army.gc.ca/en/news-publications/national-news-details-no-menu.pag... )
On June 3, 2017, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) was granted Freedom of the City of Bon Accord, Alberta.
Freedom of the City is a ceremonial honour that dates back to 15th century England. At that time, cities were constantly threatened by roving military units. Only those units that gained the trust of the citizenry were granted Freedom of the City. Today, Freedom of the City is a mark of respect that cements the bond between municipalities and local units of the Canadian Armed Forces.
1 CER made the Edmonton Capital Region its headquarters in 1996, and the town of Bon Accord has been home to members since that time. The Regiment has supported Bon Accord’s Remembrance Day commemorations each year, and members of 1 CER work alongside the citizens of Bon Accord as hockey coaches and volunteer fire fighters.
The parade was led by the Commanding Officer of 1 CER, Lieutenant-Colonel Ryan Smith. Starting at the Bon Accord Sports Arena, the unit marched past the Bon Accord cenotaph and halted at City Hall. There, Mayor Randy Boyd addressed the parade. He described the positive relationship between 1 CER and Bon Accord, and read out the Freedom of the City Proclamation. The parade members then drew swords and fixed bayonets. LCol Smith and the Regiment exercised Freedom of the City by marching the Regiment past the cenotaph and City Hall a second time. The parade was dismissed at the Arena, where soldiers and citizens shared in a festive barbecue.
1 CER is a busy unit that force-generates soldiers for deployments around the world. 1 CER currently has soldiers deployed to Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Iraq and Kuwait.
The unit has also contributed to domestic operations in Canada. Members of 1 CER deployed to the Manitoba floods in 1997, the Ontario and Quebec ice storms in 1998, and the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, Alberta in 2003.
1 CER will continue to serve Canadians at home and abroad when called upon by the Government of Canada. The Regiment is proud of its strong ties to Bon Accord, and will continue to help make the town a great place to live in years to come.