Cobble Hill’s Bob Collins (left) and reservist Keenan Hayes stand at attention at Cobble Hill Cenotaph to honour members of the Canadian military who died in Canada in non-combat roles. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Cobble Hill’s Bob Collins (left) and reservist Keenan Hayes stand at attention at Cobble Hill Cenotaph to honour members of the Canadian military who died in Canada in non-combat roles. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Vigil held to honour soldiers who die in Canada in non-combat roles

Ceremony at the Cobble Hill Cenotaph is in its sixth year

For the sixth year in a row, Bob Collins began standing at attention at the Cobble Hill Cenotaph at exactly 6:56 a.m. Pacific time on Oct. 22.

That’s the time and date in 2014 when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot in the back and killed as he stood ceremonial guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

Collins, a former member of the Queen’s Own in Winnipeg, and a team of three other people with military backgrounds, including Keenan Hayes, a reservist with the North Saskatchewan Regiment, took turns standing at attention at the cenotaph until 11 a.m. on Oct. 23.

As well as Cirillo, the team were honouring the more than 2,600 Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives while on duty in Canada in non-combat roles since 1911.

RELATED STORY: UNIQUE SERVICE AT COBBLE HILL CENOTAPH HONOURS MILITARY WHO “FELL AT HOME”

Collins began the annual tradition the night of Cirillo’s death after a 92-year-old veteran told him he couldn’t sleep knowing that there was no honour guard at the Cobble Hill Cenotaph overnight in honour of Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent who was murdered in a hit-and-run by an Islamic extremist in Quebec just 48 hours before the attack on Cirillo.

The old veteran himself was going to stand watch, but Collins decided he wasn’t going to let that happen and held a vigil himself.

“It can get chilly at night, but we dress for it and we have a camper van parked nearby where we can warm up in between the shifts of standing on guard,” said Collins, who is also a member of Malahat District Legion, Branch #134, which organizes the event and an annual memorial service for the military members killed at home that was held on Oct. 19 this year.

The legion branch is the only one in Canada to hold a special event at its cenotaph to honour these fallen soldiers.

RELATED STORY: MALAHAT LEGION REMEMBERS CANADIAN SOIL CASUALTIES

This is the third year in a row that Hayes has participated in the vigil.

Hayes said he was born and grew up in Nanaimo and he participates in the vigil when he comes home to visit every year.

“I don’t personally know anyone who has died in noncombat roles in Canada, but the military and our members with post-traumatic stress disorder are deep in my heart,” he said while standing at attention.

“I’ve seen a lot of PTSD and know what it can do to people. I’m proud to take part in this event.”

Neighbours and friends were expected to drop by with coffee and food during the vigil, and the nearby Cobblestone Pub is also supplying coffee, food and water to the participants.

“The key is to dress warmly and wear lots of socks,” Hayes said.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kendra Thomas from Warmland Women’s Support Services invites Cowichan residents to find out more about youth sex trafficking with an online event Nov. 16, 2020. (File photo)
Learn more about youth sex trafficking with ‘Love Bombing 101’

Nov. 22-28 is Victims and Survivors of Crime Week

Pnina Benyamini loved to be around people and people loved her. (Photo submitted)
Many facets to energetic Chemainus woman’s legacy

Benyamini taught yoga, belly dancing and more to an adoring public

Windy conditions in Nanaimo’s Lost Lake area. (News Bulletin file photo)
Wind warning issued for the east coast of Vancouver Island

Environment Canada says people ‘should be on the lookout’ for adverse weather conditions

Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone has been re-elected as chairman of the board at the CVRD. (File photo)
Aaron Stone re-elected as chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District

Blaise Salmon, director for Mill Bay/Malahat, elected as new vice-chairman

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Stock photo
Senior from Gibsons caught viewing child porn sentenced to 10 months

74-year-old pleaded guilty after police seized 1,500-2,500 images

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speak to the media about the COVID-19 virus outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s inability to manufacture vaccines in-house will delay distribution: Trudeau

First doses of COVID-19 vaccine expected in first few months of 2021, prime minister says

(Pixabay)
All dance studios, other indoor group fitness facilities must close amid updated COVID-19 rules

Prior announcement had said everything except spin, HIIT and hot yoga could remain open

Most Read