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All Saints, Agassiz celebrated its 6th annual Peace Officers & First Responders Appreciation Day Sunday, Oct. 26th with record attendance, spilling over from the old church into the connecting hall. The idea for this celebration came to parishioner Leroy Burden years ago while working at the Agassiz and Hope police detachments. Working closely with the officers, he soon realized they were not getting credit for what they were doing. For months, Leroy has again worked towards getting representatives of the various services that provide our day to day security interested in attending this year’s event.

Agassiz Legion donated a box of poppies so that each member of the congregation could wear one in respect for the two soldiers killed during the previous week. The service began with “The Lament” piped for the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo. The haunting sound of the bagpipes expressed feelings words cannot convey. Priest-in-charge of All Saints, Agassiz, the Reverend David Price followed the Lament with the reading of the names of Peace Officers who had lost their lives this past year across Canada. Two minutes silence of silence followed the reading of the names.

After a solemn start, the Service continued in a more joyous direction as we were led in worship by T.H.E. Group (“To Heaven Eventually”). The sermon preached by Father Price focused on the restorative love of Jesus for all people, reminding us that as Canadians we are to stand beside one another regardless of our religious and spiritual choices. The prayers chosen not only spoke of courage, justice, compassion and freedom, they also reflected two of the five Marks of Mission: “To respond to human need by loving service” and “To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind, and to pursue peace and reconciliation”.

The Harrison Highlanders Pipe Band (several members of the band serve with Corrections Canada) piped Officers and guests into the Hall and entertained us after lunch. The RCMP, Canadian Pacific Railroad Police, Commercial Vehicle Safety & Enforcement, were again represented at this year’s event. Bruce Malfait from Harrison Hot Springs Fire Department alerted us to the importance of checking our fire detectors twice a year, suggesting that a great time to do so is the beginning and end of Daylight Saving Time.

An event like this honouring our Peace Officers and First Responders is important, it needs to be said - ‘Thank You’ to all who keep us safe!

PHOTO: Fred Watson