MARPAC and Esquimalt Relationship Still Strong after a Century


Freedom of Esquimalt

The Guard of Honour, 440 strong, marched through the Township of Esquimalt in the Freedom of the City Parade.

Ominous clouds and warm drizzle couldn’t dampen the mood at the Freedom of the City ceremony last Thursday.

Adults, children, and retired service members lined the rain slick sidewalk to get a view of the assembled guard of nearly 500 Canadian Forces personnel as they marched down Esquimalt Road with colours flying, bayonets fixed, and the drums of the Naden Band pounding.

The ceremony was in recognition of the centennial of the Township of Esquimalt, and the relationship between the township and the Canadian Forces.

Assembled forces gathered on the steps of Esquimalt Municipal Hall where they were stopped by Police Chief Jamie Graham of the Victoria Police Department and asked to identify themselves before approaching municipal hall, as the tradition dictates.

Capt(N) Craig Baines, Base Commander for CFB Esquimalt, identified their intention to exercise their right of Freedom of the Township, and approached the doors of the municipal hall, striking them three times with the pommel of his sword to gain audience with Mayor Barbara Desjardins. Desjardins then inspected the guard of 100 CF personnel before approaching the podium to address those gathered.

“During these past 100 years, the fabric of Esquimalt and that of our military partners have been one and the same. I could not think of a better partner for us to celebrate our centennial year with. Our township is proud of you, our region is proud of you, our province is proud of you, and our nation is proud of you,” she said.

Desjardins then read the Freedom of the Township Proclamation, granting the military freedom to march the streets of Esquimalt in full regalia.

Capt(N) Baines then addressed those assembled. He spoke of the close relationship Maritime Forces Pacific has with the Township of Esquimalt.

“We’ve been through two world wars together, we have seen numerous conflicts, and through all of this the township of Esquimalt has been a stalwart supporter of not only CFB Esquimalt and the navy, but the Canadian Forces writ large.”

The rain began to let up as Capt(N) Baines concluded his speech.

“We have grown alongside one another, faced and overcome challenges together, and, for the last two years, celebrated a centennial of achievement together,” concluded Capt(N) Baines. “May the next 100 years be as strong and fruitful as the last 100.”

With that, the parade began their march back to dockyard.

Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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