1 CER exercises its freedom
“Edmonton salutes each and every one of you for all that you
have done, and that you will do. Thank you very much.” - Stephen
Aspen Gainer Public Affairs 1 Area Support Group. Western Sentinel 9 June 2011
“Who goes there?”
“Your Worship, I am Lieutentant Colonel Flint and I am the Commanding
Officer of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment. I hereby request permission to
exercise Freedom of the City of Edmonton.”
And so began the Freedom of the City ceremony on May 26 at City Hall in Edmonton.
Following the initial march and formal greeting, Mayor Stephen Mandel
inspected the soldiers of 1 Combat Engineer Regiment (1 CER) to make
sure the soldiers were worthy of the right to live as free citizens
within the City of Edmonton. He was escorted by Edmonton Police Chief
David Korol and Sergeant Major Adrian Marr, accompanied by LCol Mark
Flint and the RSM, Chief Warrant Officer John Russell.
After inspecting the troops, Mayor Mandel addressed the soldiers and the gathered crowd.
“This traditional ceremony gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how
grateful we are for your bravery and your dedication, for the
sacrifices you make. We are proud that you call Edmonton your home.
“For all you have done both at home and abroad we are honoured to
bestow 1 Combat Engineer Regiment their right to affirm their freedom
of the city. Edmonton salutes each and every one of you for all that
you have done, and that you will do. Thank you very much.”
Freedom of the City is one of the greatest honours that a marching unit
can receive from a municipality. LCol Flint acknowledged this honour
bestowed on the Regiment by gifting Mayor Mandel with a framed photo of
soldiers from 1 CER in Afghanistan, emblazoned with the phrase:
“Sappers lead the way.”
“I would like to thank the great people in the city of Edmonton for
their support in everything we do,” said LCol Flint. “And thanks to the
city leadership for allowing us this privilege to reaffirm our freedom
of the city.”
The last Freedom of the City ceremony was exercised in 2003. For many
of the soldiers, this was their first time participating in the
“It’s great to be part of the tradition,” said Spr Luke Gabriel. “And
it’s refreshing to have your work appreciated. It’s nice to know that
someone somewhere appreciates what we do, not just for the city and our
country, but for the world.”
1 CER is a busy unit these days. They recently deployed soldiers to
help with the floods in Manitoba. Some of the specialized skills
learned by combat engineers are perfectly geared towards flood relief:
bridge building, sandbagging and shovelling, to name a few.
The unit is also in the process of deploying about 150 more soldiers to
help close the CF mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan. One of their tasks
will be to help dismantle heavy equipment and prepare it for transport
While Edmonton’s Freedom of the City ceremony is more symbolic than
necessary in current times, the tradition helps keep 1 CER grounded at
home in Edmonton no matter where it’s soldiers are deployed.
With files from the City of Edmonton
History of ‘Freedom of the City’
Files Courtesy Of The City Of Edmonton
One of the greatest honours a marching unit can receive is the granting
of the Freedom of the City, a traditional means for a municipality to
honour a unit of the Canadian Forces. This granting is a private matter
between the civic officials and the unit concerned, and the power to
grant this symbolic freedom rests with the municipal authorities.
Several Regiments and Units have been granted Freedom of the City in
Canada in recognition of their service; a reflection of the esteem with
which a city’s citizenry regard the Unit.
The parade on May 26 was an example of a military tradition which began
in England during the 15th century and which is still an important part
of the traditions of the combat units of the Canadian Army today.
During the War of the Roses in England, cities were constantly
endangered by marauding military units from one side or another. Before
a city would admit a military unit inside its walls, the chief
constable would demand to know the reason the soldiers wished to enter
the city and then escort their commander to the chambers of the city
If the city leaders felt the unit could be trusted, they granted the
unit the privilege known as “Freedom of the City.” This entitled the
unit to enter the city with drums beating, banners flying and weapons
carried in a warlike manner.
The same rituals of long ago are seen today whenever a unit of the Canadian Forces is honoured by a city.