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Army reservists with Vancouver's 15th Royal Canadian Artillery Band march along Franklin Avenue to the Legion on Saturday. The parade was part of a weekend of festivities to mark the Year of the Veteran.

Veterans honoured

Kevin Allerston
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 06/05) - The Canada Day weekend is usually a busy one for Canadian war veterans.

This weekend was even busier than usual with parades and ceremonies to honour 22 veterans who call the North home.

Bishop John Sperry and veteran Jack Adderley lay a wreath at the Cenotaph near City Hall after the Veterans' Day Parade on Saturday.

In honour of the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, the Yellowknife branch of the Royal Canadian Legion hosted a parade, wreath ceremony, banquet and more.

Yellowknife's Dutch community honoured Canadian war veterans at the Baker Centre on Friday, with a small ceremony to thank veterans for liberating Holland from Nazi occupation 60 years ago.

"I am very proud," said a teary-eyed Jan Stirling, who was a nurse during the Korean War.

"It's just great seeing all these people. It makes you aware of all the people who were killed and wounded," Stirling said.

"I found it very hard when I was nursing in hospitals to see these young people so badly wounded, losing a leg or paralyzed," she said.

"They were so brave though, all those young people," Stirling said.

"Usually these celebrations are a good chance to get together with some of the old friends who you haven't seen in years," said Jack Adderley, who served in the Navy in the Second World War.

"In the Navy, I wasn't too involved in the blood and guts that the army was. I take my hat off to them," Adderley said.

Every time Adderley goes to a veteran's ceremony, he brings with him medals for bravery his father, James Adderley, was awarded in the First World War.

"I carry them with me because when I was about eight years old my dad used to take me to all the Remembrance Day parades and I would march with him. Now he's dead and I say, 'Dad, you're going to march with me,'" Adderley said.

The celebration was marked with flowers and small gifts for the veterans, tokens of appreciation for how Canada's veterans helped Holland.

"People who didn't know us and had nothing to benefit by being of assistance to us helped. That memory is still very much alive with us and honouring the contributions they made is something grand to work on," said Lona Hegeman, of the Holland Association of the High Arctic, who helped organize the salute.

The Royal Canadian Legion honoured veterans on Saturday with a Veterans' Day Parade, ending with the laying of wreaths at the Cenotaph at City Hall.

Frank Hirst was one of 15 veterans in attendance at the ceremony.

He joined the army while living in Lundar, Man., hoping to be on the front lines. He was instead assigned to be a training instructor for the army.

He now lives in Hay River, but was in Yellowknife for the Veterans' Day events.

Even though he never made it overseas, he still had to make some life and death decisions. He became emotional telling the story of a 15-year-old who was desperate to enlist.

"I said I'll pretend I don't know your real age. He went overseas and within an hour of action a sniper got him," Hirst said.

"You can imagine how I felt. But on the other hand, if I didn't let him go he would have hated me forever."

"He was a damn nice kid, that's why I felt so sorry for him," Hirst said.