Zealous teacher receives Queen’s Jubilee Medal

He’s been to memorial monuments and war graves all over Europe and for the past eight years bring the spirits back to Ponoka.

He’s been to memorial monuments and war graves all over Europe and for the past eight years bring the spirits back to Ponoka.

Ron Labrie, a social studies teacher at Ponoka Composite High School, received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from MP Blaine Calkins Canada Day, at the Ponoka Stampede.

Labrie was nominated by the Ponoka Legion and for him that was an experience in itself, but he didn’t think anything would come of it.

Approximately two weeks before he received the medal, Labrie received a call from Calkins’ office stating he was being awarded. “When those kinds of things happen you’re very, very grateful. I was humbled,” Labrie said.

Labrie has been awarded the medal for his passionate efforts of remembrance, and for keeping alive the spirit of soldiers killed in action.

In 2005 Labrie experienced his first battlefield tour. Historica and the Canadian Battlefields Foundation teamed up to educate teachers on Canadian battlefields and cemeteries in France.

As part of the tour Labrie researched the story of pilot officer Joseph Gordon Brady, from Ponoka.

When Labrie returned to Ponoka he was the guest speaker at the legion dinner honouring the Year of the Veteran.

He also had a plan and a project in mind; the Ponoka Cenotaph Project, now the Broncs World Tour.

“In 2007 I led an Alberta delegation of students to Ottawa for the Remembrance Youth Summit, where we worked on new ways for present and future generations to continue to carry on the torch of remembrance,” Labrie said.

It wasn’t until 2009 Labrie began teaching the Bronc World Tour (BWT). It’s a year long course that takes place outside of regular school hours. The students initiate research of Ponoka and areas soldiers killed in action.

The students create a biography of the soldiers. “They find out their height, their eye colour, their hobbies,” Labrie said. “It gives the students an opportunity to put a story behind a name.”

“There’s more to that person than just a name on a bronze plaque.”

In 2011 the BWT students met Signore Constantino, the village historian and expert on the Battle of Liri Valley.

According to Labrie, Constantino was grateful a group of young Canadians where interested and passionate about the battle that destroyed his village in Liri Valley.

The students of BWT have also met former a member of the French Resistance, Adrien Jobin. At age 19 Jobin hid the surviving crew members of a Lancaster bomber who’d been shot down in Jobin’s commune.

Jobin’s village created a monument to honour the two RCAF members that died. One of them was from Ponoka, officer George Cameron.

“We’ve have had many unbelievable discoveries over the years, including sharing information, pictures and grave rubbings with family. These events have been extremely emotional, yet highly rewarding as there has been a sense of connection and reminiscence of soldiers long lost,” said Labrie.

Labrie mentioned that at some gravesites the Ponoka students are probably the only people who have even visited.

Labrie and his students work with the Fort Ostell Museum, going through old newspapers for any information. Sometimes they find a name, and if they’re really lucky, a picture.

Ponoka Composite High School applied for funding for a memorial project for its Hall of Valor. “Our school has really embraced the Cenotaph Project, and consequently our Remembrance Day ceremony is one of the most important assemblies at Ponoka Composite.”

Labrie found that the more involved you get in a project like this the more its importance becomes magnified every year. “The mission at the end of the day is to get through everybody. You don’t want to forget anyone. You don’t want to disappoint anyone,” Labrie said

Labrie has always been interested in history, but more specifically its military aspects. “Why these guys would unselfishly give themselves” … That’s his million dollar question.”

“They made the ultimate sacrifice, they didn’t come home.”

Just Posted

Ponoka RCMP respond to intoxicated male in Golden Leisure Lodge

On May 15, 2019 the Ponoka RCMP responded to a complaint of… Continue reading

Town to sign five-year policing agreement with Ponoka Stampede

The Town of Ponoka will go ahead with a five-year renewable agreement… Continue reading

UPDATED: Ponoka RCMP arrest male on Canada wide warrant

UPDATE for Immediate Release: Collin James Courteoreille was wanted on a Canada… Continue reading

Town passes 2019 budgets and tax bylaw with 2.2 per cent increase

Ponoka town council passed a $25.5 million 2019 capital and operating budget… Continue reading

Alberta throne speech followed by bill to repeal provincial carbon tax

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already signalled that if Alberta removes the tax, it will impose its federal carbon levy

Pipeline protester chimes in on Justin Trudeau’s B.C. fundraising speech

The government purchased the Trans Mountain pipeline and expansion project for $4.5 billion

Canada stripping citizenship from Chinese man over alleged marriage fraud

The move comes amid severely strained relations between Ottawa and Beijing

Mayor says northern Alberta town still under threat from nearby wildfire

The blaze has now eaten its way through about 920 square kilometres of forest

Bashaw RCMP assist Stettler in arrest

Man out on bail sitting in custody after vehicle theft spree

Ottawa spending $24.5M to research health benefits, risks of pot use

$390,000 will fund two cannabis public awareness

Crackdown on money laundering does not include federal public inquiry: minister

An independent report commissioned concluded $7.4 billion was laundered in B.C. last year

Trudeau’s action plan on climate change brings B.C. politician out of retirement

Terry Lake, a former B.C. health minister, is running for federal office in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo

Survey finds minimal progress in Canadian military’s fight against sexual misconduct

1.6 per cent of regular-force members — 900 military personnel — reported having been victims of sexual assaults over past year

Most Read