Bottom right: Shriners gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. (Submitted)

Cowichan Coffee Time: Skills win, and wreath laying in Ottawa

• The Cowichan Valley Board of Education is congratulating Cowichan Secondary School student Ben Miller, who recently returned from the Skills Canada National Competition in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a silver medal in Collision Repair.

Miller was eligible to participate in the national competition after his gold medal win in the provincial competition. Miller recently completed his youth training welding C ticket and is a youth apprentice at Kroffat Auto for Automotive Service. Of note, Millar has been coached by Isherwood Auto Body two days a week since December to prepare him for the Skills Canada competitions.

• Malahat Branch Royal Canadian Legion veterans, and Shriner Stan Grenda, attended the Annual International Association Legion of Honour Shriners (IALOH) Wreath Laying Ceremony on June 1 at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. In attendance were Shriners from both sides of the boarder. The Shrine Legion of Honour is a unit made up of veterans from the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP who have or are serving. Grenda, retired RCN is a Past Commander of the Vancouver Island Legion of Honour #38. Here is his account of the event:

“A month ago, I was invited to participate in the Annual Shriners Veterans Wreath Laying Ceremony on June 1 in our nation’s capital and after a short search I made contact with another LOH Shriner and Royal Canadian Legion Member Boyd Clark, who is in active service with the RCN in Ottawa. He volunteered to pick Lady Maria and myself up from the airport and drive us to our hotel. Noble Boyd also volunteered to be my guide while we were in Ottawa as I am visually impaired.

“On June 1 we all mustered early near the Cenotaph and after some smooth talking to the organizing committee it was decided that I would be allowed to carry the U.S. flag. Once again Boyd was my guide for the duration of the ceremony. Camaraderie at its best surfaced once again. The special wreath was carried and placed by the attending IALOH Commander Past Potentate Ill. Sir Eddie Daffern of Khiva Shrine Temple, Amarillo, Texas and the Ottawa Potentate from Tunis Shriners Ill, Sir Robert Schrader. All members were marching in pairs and each Noble placed a red poppy, saluted and marched back. On completion the three members of the colour party did the same.

“A note of interest was when flying to Ottawa on WestJet our stewardess was curious why we were flying so far for only a few days. I explained the Annual Shriners Veterans Laying of the Wreath Ceremony and why we attended. She thanked me for my service and offered to buy us a drink, which we accepted with pleasure. On flying back from Ottawa, the stewardess came to visit us in our economy seats and escorted us to the first class section, telling us there were a few empty seats available and asking me a lot of questions to why we were in Ottawa. Again I explained. It was a nice flight and after an excellent meal, a few glasses of free wine I settled into my seat and watched the Raptors win their second game. Life is good despite my visual impairment.”

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