Manitoba honours fallen soldiers

Lakes named for soldiers who died in Afghanistan

Five previously unnamed lakes in northeastern Manitoba now bear the names of some of the province’s fallen sons.

Pte. Lane Watkins, Cpl. James Arnal, Cpl. Michael Seggie, Sapper Sean Greenfield and Trooper Corey Hayes, who all died in Afghanistan, were honoured by the Manitoba government during a ceremony at the legislature Thursday. It was announced small lakes northwest of Utik Lake, located about 50 km north of Oxford House, will forever bear the names of the fallen soldiers.

“To me, it’s an honour that the province has done this,” said Master Warrant Officer Jim Seggie, Michael Seggie’s father.

“You go through all sorts of emotions: happiness because something is being done to honour your son, sadness because your son isn’t here with you, and pretty much everything in between.”

The families of Watkins, Arnal, Seggie and Greenfield attended the ceremony and were presented with plaques by Premier Greg Selinger.

Hayes will be honoured at a separate ceremony at a later date as his family was unable to attend Thursday.

Naming lakes in honour of fallen soldiers is a long-standing tradition in Manitoba. The province has more than 4,000 lakes, rivers, bays and peninsulas named after World War II and Korean War casualties, as well as one soldier who died during a United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Manitoba was the first province to name features after casualties of the Afghanistan war.

The province has also named lakes in recent years after Prince Edward’s children and hockey star Jonathan Toews, which drew criticism from at least one military family Thursday.

Raymond Arnal, James Arnal’s father, read a statement to media thanking the government for honouring his son, but at the same time criticizing the province for also naming a lake after Toews earlier this year.

“Knowing that a supreme sacrifice has now been recognized by the Manitoba government gives me a great sense of pride and joy,” Arnal said. “I’d like to voice my disappointment that the Manitoba government also chose to bestow this honour on a hockey player ... I believe it detracts and takes away from the significance of naming a geographic feature after war dead.”

Selinger, through his spokesman, declined to comment.

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