The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 Qualicum Beach presented a colourful and impassioned Canada Day Ceremony on July 1.
First vice president Rob Diack told the gathering it was a day for Canadians to celebrate and appreciate our wonderful country and what it means to be Canadian and how lucky we are to live in this country.
The theme for this year was getting to know your neighbour, and making the entire neighbourhood a better place to live. A former Qualicum Beach resident was selected to bring home that message.
Leading Seaman Liam Chambers delivered a heartfelt and earnest speech to the crowd who gathered after a short parade through the town.
The former Kwalikum Secondary School student who is based at CFB Esquimalt talked about being selected to stand guard for the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
The monument was created to honour more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.
The ceremonial guard posting was a significant honour for Chambers, in light of the tragic death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo late last year — an event that stunned the country, shedding light on the importance of sentry duty.
Chambers, who performed sentry duty for the month of May, stood in the exact same spot as Cirillo.
He told the gathering that it was an honour to be selected for the post.
“The first thing that I thought about was the shooting and the murder of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo in Ottawa. I felt that I needed to do this as a military member and as a caring Canadian. Before I left I decided that it would be in his honour to try and learn everything I could about him. I read every article and I watched every video and I felt very connected to what I was about to do and felt like the weight on my shoulders was very heavy,” Chambers, 23, told the gathering.
He said it has been one of the best experiences he has had in his entire life.
“The feeling of standing in the same spot as Nathan Cirrilo underneath that 70 foot statue in Ottawa was amazing. It was incredible. The people that I met, military and civilian were tremendously supportive and very happy about what I was doing.”
He admitted he wasn’t really prepared emotionally for the experience he was about to go through and gave credit to his family for being supportive and always encouraging him to take on new challenges.
“Growing up in a place like this and having the support that I have had from my family members who are here and my friends, everyone at school and my teachers has just been unbelievable.”
Chambers is a lead seaman with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Vancouver.
He’s been in the Canadian Armed Forces for nearly four years and as a sonar operator does underwater warfare.
Since his basic training in August of 2011 he has continued to challenge himself and recently finished an intense navy rescue course.
Chambers said he plans to go further in the military.
“I want to do something meaningful and challenging. I want to get into military search and rescue,” he said.