- Category: news
- Created: Monday, 07 October 2013 14:25
- Published: Monday, 07 October 2013 14:25
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By: Alexandra Paul
Winnipeg Free Press
A new monument to Canada's most decorated aboriginal soldier was unveiled Sunday in a ceremony that brought together descendants of Sgt. Tommy Prince with dignitaries, military veterans and a cadet corps named in the soldier's honour.
The boulder with Prince's name is located at the Veteran Military Plaza, located south of Battery Street and Selkirk Avenue. It replaces one that was vandalized.
Its placement caps 16 years of efforts by veteran Donald Mackey to honour Prince, a man he knew when both were in the military in the 1950s.
"I'm just realizing I'm going to be winding this down," said Mackey at the conclusion of the event, marked by prayers, an elder's sage-smudge, a lament on the bagpipes and the presence of some of Prince's family.
Tommy Prince Jr. said his father would have been happy with the memorial and the turnout. "I was touched, very touched," said Prince. "My father would have been very happy if he was here with everything being done. The family appreciates Mr. Mackey."
Starting in 1997, Mackey headed countless tributes, gathering public and military support for initiatives that included a cadet corps set up in Prince's name, murals on Sgt. Tommy Prince Street, the park that was the site of the unveiling named in his honour and displays installed at Sgt. Tommy Prince School in Brokenhead First Nation where Prince grew up, and at Sir Sam Steele Legion on Salter Street.
The family was told Sunday an all-aboriginal platoon is also named in Prince's name. It is stationed with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in Brandon.
Another monument for which Mackey raised money can be seen at the Freight House on Isabel Street.
Brokenhead Chief Jim Bear, a nephew of Prince's, attended the ceremony and recalled the time he and Mackey teamed up to save Prince's medals. Prince had sold his military medals and they changed hands several times before coming up for auction in 2001. Bear organized a fundraising campaign to buy the medals and donated them to the Manitoba Museum in a lasting tribute.
"We got 'em back," Bear said as the two men reminisced after the ceremony.
Replicas of those medals were stolen from the original monument at the park on Battery Street.
Sgt. Prince's son said his father's instinct to protect and serve is a trait that's also showing up in his descendants' choice of work even now, with grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews who have found jobs as auxiliary police and security officers.