NEAR DOUGLAS — Manitoba honoured Canadian Forces personnel Friday by designating a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and Brandon as the Highway of Heroes.
With the roadside dedication ceremony, Manitoba joined Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan as provinces with highways dedicated to the military.
“We are extremely appreciative of the support we get from Manitoba, and particularly western Manitoba with a large portion of our soldiers being based at Shilo,” said Lt.-Col Richard Goodyear, base commander at CFB Shilo. “We have enjoyed the relationship and support we have with the City of Brandon and the outlying communities as well. Today is a great way for the province to say thank you to all who have served here.”
The Highway of Heroes now spans from St. Francois Xavier to the Highway 340 junction at Douglas.
Goodyear said the two signs near Douglas — one in English, the other in French — are key symbols for showing support for the troops.
“They’ll be a reminder every time the folks from Shilo head east that ... the support is there,” Goodyear said. “That’s particularly important for families when troops are away.”
A similar pair of signs were also unveiled near St. Francois Xavier by Premier Greg Selinger, who was joined by military personnel, government officials and supporters.
The Westman dedication, headed by Brandon East NDP MLA Drew Caldwell, also included remarks from Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst and Spruce Woods Progressive Conservative MLA Cliff Cullen.
“This is a national highway, so when you have multiple levels of government involved, it can take a little bit longer,” Caldwell said. “The first one is near my old stomping grounds in Kingston, Ont., which was dedicated probably a half a decade ago. It makes sense for it to be there because of the Royal Military College that they would be the leader. It’s a good idea that just took some time to get done.”
In her speech, Decter Hirst said the highway signs will give the civilian population a chance to reflect on the sacrifices offered by others for their freedoms.
“‘Heroes’ is a word we use a lot,” Decter Hirst said. “We use it when we talk about someone who does a job really well. In the most profound sense, these are the men and women who we rely on to serve us and serve our country, to protect everything that is Canada.”
Cullen, whose constituency includes CFB Shilo, said the signs serve as a monument to those who have been killed in action or while on duty for their country.
“The piece of highway they are using, that’s the turnoff to Shilo and Winnipeg, so it made sense to start it there near CFB Shilo,” Cullen said.
“The other thing this does is recognize the important contribution CFB Shilo has played in this region. It also shows the interaction the surrounding communities have had with the military and military families. Certainly a lot of communities have done a lot of work to foster those relationships.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 9, 2012