A military tradition centuries in the making continued on New Year’s Day in Thunder Bay.
Members of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment opened the doors of the O’Kelly Armoury to the public on Thursday, toasting Queen Elizabeth II while looking back on the past year and ahead to 2016.
Lt. Col. David Ratz, the LSSR’s commanding officer, said the annual New Year’s Day levee is a great way to celebrate all things military.
“It’s something that goes back as long as there’s been a government in Canada,” Ratz said. “In Quebec City the governor would call together the leaders of the colony on New Year’s Day and they would toast to the health of the sovereign.
“So today we’re toasting to the health of Queen Elizabeth II. Then we talk about our hopes and expectations for the new year.”
Historically military leadership would also use the opportunity as a strategy session, to plan for the coming year.
“We’re not going to do that today,” Ratz said. “We just going to have a social occasion.”
About three dozen members of the military gathered at the levee, one of two taking place in the city. The other is set for HMCS Griffon at 12:45 p.m.
For MP Patty Hajdu, the newly appointed minister for the status of women, it was her first New Year’s Day levee in an official capacity.
A member of the Privy Council that reports to the Queen, Hajdu said it’s important to celebrate the importance of Canada’s armed forces.
Given the troubled state of affairs around the world, the country’s military has taken on even more significance around the world.
“It’s very distressing to see so many people suffering as a result of conflict, and not just war-torn countries. We see the news, we see the photos every day. But all the people who are working over (seas) far from their homes and trying to help make the world a safer place,” Hajdu said.
“It’s extremely worrying and I know that Canada is doing its utmost to be part of the solution, but sometime that solution seems far away.”
Sometimes a little recognition goes a long way, she added.
“It shows them we really value the work that they do. We’ve got a strong military history in Canada,” Hajdu said.