1 CER Marks Remembrance Day in Fox Creek

Master Corporal Alexis Russelo (centre) presents a 1 Combat Engineer Regiment certificate to the Royal Canadian Legion’s Don White (right) alongside Past President Fox Creek Branch 280 and District 1 AB/NWT Commander Lisa Peterson (left). Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, area fire departments, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, along with local dignitaries, attend the opening ceremony of the Fox Creek, Alta. cenotaph.
Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment with their Fox Creek, Alta. Wildfire Medals. Photo by Lisa Peterson
The burned bridge and shovel on display in 17 Armoured Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment. It marks Sappers’ commitment and service to Canadian people. Photo by MCpl Alexis Russelo, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment
Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, 1 Military Police Regiment, 1 Field Ambulance and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in Fox Creek, Alta. for the Remembrance Day ceremony. Photo by Meaghann E. Fuchs
Captain Stephen Moss (left) and Corporal Adam Dutrisac (right) proceed to lay the wreath during Fox Creek, Alta.’s Remembrance Day ceremony. Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Captain Stephen Moss (left) and Corporal Adam Dutrisac (right) proceed to lay the wreath during Fox Creek, Alta.’s Remembrance Day ceremony. Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Captain Trent Klimack (left) and Sapper Thomas Giavedoni (right) showing respect to the Fox Creek, Alta. cenotaph. Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Fox Creek appreciation package. Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Fox Creek Eagle Complex Wildfire Medal Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)
Publication Date 
22 Nov 2023

Article by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)

Friendship forged fighting fires on Op LENTUS

On Nov. 11, Canadians gather to recognize and acknowledge those who have sacrificed so we can enjoy our peace and freedom.

As parades and ceremonies occurred across the country in major urban areas this year, a small contingent of soldiers from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) led by Captain Trent Klimack departed their unit line in the early morning darkness. Their destination was Fox Creek, Alta., a small town located 257 km northwest of Edmonton.

The soldiers were answering an invitation from Royal Canadian Legion District 1 AB/NWT Commander Lisa Peterson, just as they had answered the Request for Assistance from the Province of Alberta back in May during Operation LENTUS 23‑01 to battle the wildfires burning across Alberta.

It was the battle against Mother Nature back in May 2023. Fox Creek was under a full evacuation order as ashes were raining down, and the blazes had reached the edge of the town. At one point, Alberta Wildfire projected Fox Creek might cease to exist. The residents could only rely on their faith when the situation was dire and hopeless.

"I was praying for the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to help us, and an announcement was made three days later," Peterson said.

At the height of the mission, approximately 350 CAF members were deployed to fight the Eagle Complex wildfire. It was through the combined efforts of Alberta Wildfire, municipal firefighters, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), emergency services, the CAF and local volunteers that Fox Creek still stands today.

A special Remembrance Day ceremony was held in Fox Creek for those soldiers who contributed and directly affected the lives of the local residents. The community in the remote location does not see soldiers often, and this is the first time they have had this many soldiers attending their ceremony.

Representatives from 1 CER, 1 Military Police Regiment, 1 Field Ambulance (1 Fd Amb) and Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) (LdSH(RC)) gathered in Fox Creek. Many of them had not seen each other since May. It was like a reunion where the soldiers could share their hardships and memories from the wildfire.

"It was nice to return and not see fires everywhere,” said 1 Fd Amb’s Corporal Adam Dutrisac. “It was nice to see everyone. I wish this could be an annual thing. It kept reminding me of the impact I was a part of on the ground.”

The ceremony focused on the recent wildfire and recognized the collective efforts of firefighters, the RCMP and the CAF during Op LENTUS. A PowerPoint slideshow captured many pivotal moments during the wildfire.

"I felt deeply connected by seeing myself on the slide as I was proud to be a part of the mission," said Sapper Thomas Giavedoni.

Every soldier received a special appreciation package, and the Royal Canadian Legion presented Eagle Fire medals to all the soldiers at the ceremony, showing gratitude from the town. In return, Master Corporal Alexis Russelo gave a 1 CER certificate to the Legion in appreciation for their unwavering support during Op LENTUS.

After the service, Capt Klimack was invited to attend the grand opening of the new cenotaph. He had the honour of cutting the ribbon, deepening the military’s connection with the town.

"I enjoyed this Remembrance Day service as I could see many photos of our Sappers that I could relate to,” he said. “It was an honour for me to serve alongside those men and women who made a difference. I wish I could have the opportunity to return next year with more sappers."

Since Op LENTUS 23‑01 in May, CAF members participated in seven additional Op LENTUS deployments, assisting those communities in crisis. Over 2,000 CAF members were involved, showing the scale of the commitment the CAF has to Canadians through this most critical mission.

The battle of the Fox Creek might be over, but the memory of hardship and friendship will last a long time. A piece of burned bridge and a shovel were made into a stand, which is now displayed at 1 CER, symbolizing the soldiers' service and commitment to the Canadian people on the home front.

Every soldier deployed on this operation is proud of their impact and achievement. We remember those who have come before us and sacrificed for our peace and freedom. We honour those who served, as they are the unsung heroes behind every successful operation. Thank you all for your service.

Lest We Forget.

 

Photos:

 

Photo 1

Master Corporal Alexis Russelo (centre) presents a 1 Combat Engineer Regiment certificate to the Royal Canadian Legion’s Don White (right) alongside Past President Fox Creek Branch 280 and District 1 AB/NWT Commander Lisa Peterson (left).

Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)

 

Photo 2

Representatives from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, area fire departments, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Royal Canadian Legion, along with local dignitaries, attend the opening ceremony of the Fox Creek, Alta. cenotaph.

Photo by: Photo Supplied by the RCL. Author unknown

 

Photo 3

Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment with their Fox Creek, Alta. Wildfire Medals.

Photo by Lisa Peterson

 

Photo 4

The burned bridge and shovel on display in 17 Armoured Squadron, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment. It marks Sappers’ commitment and service to Canadian people.

Photo by MCpl Alexis Russelo, 1 Combat Engineer Regiment

 

Photo 5

Members from 1 Combat Engineer Regiment, 1 Military Police Regiment, 1 Field Ambulance and Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) in Fox Creek, Alta. for the Remembrance Day ceremony.

Photo by Meaghann E. Fuchs

 

Photo 6

Captain Stephen Moss (left) and Corporal Adam Dutrisac (right) proceed to lay the wreath during Fox Creek, Alta.’s Remembrance Day ceremony.

Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)

 

Photo 7

Captain Trent Klimack (left) and Sapper Thomas Giavedoni (right) showing respect to the Fox Creek, Alta. cenotaph.

Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)

 

Photo 8

Fox Creek, Alta.’s cenotaph.

Photo by Lisa Peterson

 

Photo 9

Fox Creek appreciation package.

Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)

 

Photo 10

Fox Creek Eagle Complex Wildfire Medal

Photo by Capt Kyle Ho, Real Property Operations Unit (West)