Penticton’s Princess Margaret Secondary held a moving student-led Remembrance Day ceremony on the shores of Skaha Lake Wednesday morning.
Organized by Grade 12 leadership students Susie Robinson and Rachel Brown along with others, the 20-minute ceremony featured an Indigenous blessing from a First Nation Elder, the singing of the Okanagan Song and O Canada, and the Maggie choir singing We Remember.
Westbank First Nation Elder Rose Caldwell, who is also a nsyilxcen speaker and language teacher in School District #67 said the blessing on the shores of Skaha Lake.
Maggie students from Penticton Indian Band drummed and sang the Okanagan Song.
A poem was read out loud by two students about the Indigenous soldiers who gave up their treaty rights to fight in the Second World War and how when they returned they were not celebrated or awarded the same benefits of the other veterans.
The ceremony ended with Maggie student Marcus Francisco playing the Last Post on his trumpet.
“This is our grad year, so we really wanted to do a special Remembrance Day ceremony for our last year at the school,” said Grade 12 student organizer Susie Robinson. “My sister organized the ceremonies before me and now it was my turn.”
“We have been working on this ceremony since September,” said student organizer Rachel Brown.
Hot chocolate and cookies were given to the students after the ceremony.
Maggie Grade 10 student Sarah Hansen read out her poem, Remembrance Lesson. Below is the full poem that is now in the finals for a national poetry competition.
I feel badly now for grumbling
When Mom said we had to go,
I watched her put her boots on
And a poppy, I thought, for show.
I had to stand there waiting
While she lined up with her “Reds”
And she smiled and introduced me
To some “vets,” was what she said.
I watched some old men struggle
To stand up nice and tall,
And the place got very somber
When I heard the bugle call.
They spoke about my freedom
And the price that it had cost,
All the young men who had fought there
All the things that had been lost.
I felt a lump in my throat
And I saw a single tear
Fall upon Mom’s red serge jacket
As the end was coming near.
I’d never thought about it,
The freedom I have now
And those who came before me
To ensure this all, somehow.
So as I lay my poppy
I will say a little prayer
Thank you, all — forever
I will honour you, I swear.
— Sarah Hansen
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