The City of Prince George is bestowing Freedom of the City, the highest award council can bestow upon a citizen or organization, upon the Rocky Mountain Rangers.
“This award is Council’s highest honour and recognizes exceptional merit and contribution,” says Mayor Lyn Hall, in a news release. “Granting of this distinction recognizes the Rocky Mountain Rangers’ history, presence in our community, and contributions both locally and nationally. On behalf of council, I would like to congratulate and thank the Rangers for their contributions to Prince George and to Canada.”
The Rocky Mountain Rangers are a Primary Reserve infantry regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces based at JR Vicars Armoury in Kamloops. The Rangers train and provide infantry soldiers to meet the operational requirements of the Canadian Armed Forces. Prince George was previously home to “A” Company of the Rocky Mountain Rangers, but the Company was relocated in Kamloops in 1970. In 2011, “B” Company was activated in Prince George due in large part to efforts from citizen volunteers in Prince George dedicated to bringing the Army back to Prince George following its 41-year absence.
“B” Company currently includes about 60 citizen-soldiers, many of whom recently served in “Operation LENTUS,” the Canadian Armed Forces’ operation to bring relief and assistance to the communities affected by 2017’s devastating Cariboo wildfires. Previously, the City of Prince George also bestowed Freedom of the City upon the Royal Canadian Army Cadets Corps, which maintains an affiliation with the Rocky Mountain Rangers.
“Receiving the Freedom of a City is the most prestigious honour a Regiment can receive from a city – it is symbolic of the trust and partnership held between our Regiment and the City of Prince George,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Normand Dionne, Commanding Officer of the Rocky Mountain Rangers. “The soldiers of Prince George and the Regiment as a whole are extremely proud to receive this recognition.”
Parade, ceremony, and banquet
Unlike the awarding of Freedom of the City to other individuals or organizations, bestowing the distinction to a military unit has associated traditions dating back hundreds of years to the days when military units were not allowed to enter cities at night without the permission of the local government.
Consequently, the granting of Freedom of the City to the Rocky Mountain Rangers will involve a ‘March to City Hall’ on the morning of Saturday, April 21, followed by a ceremony in front of City Hall, and a special dinner that evening at the Prince George Conference and Civic Centre. The parade will include members of the local RCMP who will formally “allow passage” of the Regiment into the city, a formal knocking on the door of City Hall by the Commanding Officer of the Regiment, and an official inspection of the troops by Mayor Hall. Lieutenant-General Paul Wynnyk, Commander of the Canadian Army, will also be in attendance at the events.
The parade will begin at about 10:25 a.m. at the Kopar Building at 150 Brunswick Street and proceed down Second Avenue to George Street. From there, the Regiment will march down George Street to the Cenotaph at City Hall where the ceremonies will commence. Following the ceremonies, the parade will continue on to Canada Games Plaza before returning down Brunswick Street and disbanding at the Kopar Building.