By Gabrielle Fahmy
It was a sunny Saturday afternoon, as soldiers from two of the biggest army regiments in the country arrived to face one another on the rink of Laval Liberty High School.
Soldiers of the Third Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (3PPCLI) from Edmonton, Alberta, played against those of the Fourth Battalion of the Royal 22nd Regiment (4R22R), from Laval.
The event, known as Hockey Day in Laval, now in its sixth year, is a student-run initiative.
It’s one of several occasions during the school year when the Edmonton soldiers make the trip out East, as a manifestation of a beautiful friendship that honours the service of a fellow soldier.
The alliance between the school and the regiment goes back to the story of Sgt. Chris Karigiannis, a Laval Liberty graduate who joined the army with the Alberta regiment. He died while serving in Afghanistan in 2007, killed by a roadside bomb blast.
‘’After he passed away, we planted a tree outside our school to honour him but we didn’t think that was enough,’’ said Barbara Kontos, a Grade 11 student.
The students wrote a letter to the commanding officer of 3PPCLI, expressing their desire to adopt the regiment.
‘’Since we couldn’t care for him, we wanted to care for his friends instead,’’ said Shanelle Jarvis, who’s also in Grade 11.
Laval Liberty’s leadership program was born as a result. It’s the first program of its kind in Canada, and gives the opportunity to the twenty students who have chosen to enroll to learn leadership qualities from the soldiers themselves.
“The soldiers, they help us and we help them, we’re like a big family,’’ said Shanelle.
Saturday’s game marked the 100th anniversary of both regiments. The soldiers from Alberta won the trophy, but everyone left in high spirits.
‘’We do this in order to always be thinking about the soldiers and their sacrifices, not wait until something happens to them,’’ said David Rossi, a teacher at the school.
‘’It’s to get to know them, and remember their actions, even when they’re present with us.’’
According to organizer Daniel Johnson, a freewill offering during the event raised about $400 for Pink in the City, a charity founded by LLHS alumni to fight breast cancer.
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