Bernie Loeppky addresses crowd at dedication ceremony for CO Cairn
A monument honouring the contributions and sacrifices that conscientious objectors have made to Canada was dedicated in Altona on the weekend.
The cairn, located along 10th Avenue NE, is a memorial to the many thousands of people who chose alternative service instead of military service during wartime. "This community was founded by people who came here because they were conscientious objectors," said Bernie Loeppky, a spokesman for the local group that spearheaded the project. "A marker like this is much more than a memory, it is also a teaching tool. From this marker we expect people will ask questions as to why people chose to be a CO."
In Canada, conscientious objectors were often assigned to an alternative civilian service during the war as a substitute for conscription or military service. Loeppky says those who chose alternative service made contributions that have benefited the country.
A fairly large crowd turned out for the ceremony on Sunday afternoon. The monument has a bronze plaque attached to a stone that stands about 8 feet tall. Loeppky says conscientious objectors date back to the early Church.
Loeppky says it has been a long process in getting to this point. "Originally, many of the COs that were part of this did not want to be recognized. However, after some time, we managed to generate some enthusiasm and interest. We did one in Winkler earlier, and other memorials are being planned in locations throughout Canada."