In a tradition that stretches back hundreds of years, the HMCS Tecumseh was granted the Freedom of the City by Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Saturday as part of the 100-year anniversary of the naval reserve in the city.
The Sept. 23 ceremony saw members of the Canadian Naval Reserve march down Stephen Avenue to City Hall, before being ceremonially stopped by the Calgary Police Service before asking the Mayor for permission to assemble and be inspected.
Freedom of the City, steeped in ancient tradition from the medieval era, is one of the highest honours that can be bestowed by civilian authorities on military units.
“I think it’s incredibly important to recognize that we have reservists in our city, especially when you consider that Navy is often always the first to be deployed. It stands to reason that we should celebrate the fact that they have offered so much to our country,” said Mayor Gondek.
“So anytime we can celebrate those that are standing up for our democracy it’s a good day to do so.”
As part of the ceremonies, Mayor Gondek issued a proclamation on behalf of the City of Calgary declaring Freedom of the City for HMCS Tecumseh. In return, the commanding officer of HMCS Tecumseh, Commander Andy Paschke, along with Captain (N) Janet McDougall, Naval Reserve Western Division, gave the mayor a plaque representing the unit and a challenge coin.
Cmdr. Paschke said that the ceremony served a dual purpose to both honour the current reservists and former reservists who have served, alongside the 42 reservists from HMCS Tecumseh who were killed during World War II.
Among those was Lieutenant Robert Hampton Gray, who was the Royal Canadian Naval Volunteer Reserve’s only recipient of the Victoria Cross—the highest honour awarded during WW2—for his valiant efforts to combat enemy forces in the Pacific, sinking the destroyer Onagawa Wan at the cost of his own life.
“We’ve been here for 100, and we’re going to be here for another 100 in Calgary,” said Cmdr. Paschke.
Photos from the Freedom of the City for HMCS Tecumseh