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Memorial representation

Two Memorial University youth part of historic July 1 events

By Michelle Osmond

Two youths from the Memorial University community were invited by Veterans Affairs Canada to mark Memorial Day events.

One of the main events was the historic funeral procession of the unknown soldier who was laid to rest at the National War Memorial on July 1.

From Friday, June 28, to Monday, July 1, Veterans Affairs Canada held several events to mark the 100th anniversary of the unveiling and dedication of the Newfoundland National War Memorial, including a military funeral for the unknown soldier repatriated from northern France.

The soldier represents all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who lost their lives in conflict, especially those with no known graves.

Mackenzie Luff and Mckenzie Hutchings were both nominated and chosen as youth representatives for the Government of Canada delegation.

Mackenzie Luff

Young woman in black sweater sits on yellow chair with long hallway in the background
Mackenzie Luff says being chosen for the Memorial Day events is an experience she’ll never forget.
Photo: Submitted

“I have been surrounded by military connections my entire life, from having family members fight in the Great War to being a part of the Canadian cadet organization,” said Ms. Luff, who is from Brown’s Arm, N.L.

Ms. Luff’s great, great uncle joined the Royal Newfoundland Regiment in 1917 and fought in the battle of Beaumont-Hamel.

When she was very young, Ms. Luff’s father joined the Canadian Rangers with the 5th Canadian Ranger Patrol Group (Lewisporte patrol) and now holds the rank of master corporal.

Ms. Luff herself is actively involved in cadets. At 12, she began her cadet career in Lewisporte, N.L., and graduated with the rank of warrant officer second class and was the appointed squadron deputy commander in 2017.

After she moved to St. John’s, she continued to volunteer with local cadet units and recently enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces as a cadet instructor cadre officer.

Ms. Luff also has strong Memorial connections, having graduated with a diploma in marine environmental technology from the Fisheries and Marine Institute in 2020, completed a bachelor of technology (engineering technology and applied science) in 2022 and is now working on her master’s degree in marine studies (marine spatial planning and management). Ms. Luff also works at the Marine Institute as an undergraduate student recruitment officer.

In speaking about her experience as part of the delegation, Ms. Luff says she felt honoured.

“Over the past three days, I participated in numerous events rich with history and storytelling. I spoke with veterans who served overseas and with individuals passionate about educating the public on the sacrifices of those in the Newfoundland Regiment.

“During the Memorial Day service, I had the pleasure of reading the Commitment to Remember, paying tribute to those who selflessly served their country.

“Being nominated by the Marine Institute for this unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience was a true privilege, and its impact on me is something I’ll never forget.”

Mckenzie Hutchings

Young woman ins blude suite stands in front of plants, smiling at cameral
The highlight of the Memorial Day events for Mckenzie Hutchings was connecting with veterans.
Photo: Submitted

Ms. Hutchings, a member of the NunatuKavut Community Council who spent her childhood in Nain and North West River, also participated in the momentous event.

“My family’s military history has instilled in me a deep respect and understanding for our servicemen and women and the sacrifices they have made and continue to make,” said Ms. Hutchings, who was also nominated by Memorial University.

In 1950 her grandfather was deployed to Korea, where he served with the Royal Canadian Engineers until he returned to Newfoundland in 1952. His commitment and sacrifices were Ms. Hutchings’ primary inspiration and motivation to put herself forward as a youth delegate.

In addition, her uncle is an officer with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 9 in Spaniard’s Bay who supports the local veterans community, and her father enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1984.

Young woman carries wreath of with members of the military on either side of her
Mckenzie Hutchings lays a wreath during the July 1 Memorial Day ceremony on behalf of N.L. youth.
Photo: Submitted

“This experience was deeply meaningful to me,” she said. “The highlight of the weekend was spending time with veterans, sharing in their laughter and sorrow as we repatriated the unknown soldier of Newfoundland and Labrador.

“This once-in-a-lifetime experience allowed me to connect with our province’s veterans in a profound way. It was an immense honour to lay a wreath during the ceremony on behalf of the youth of Newfoundland and Labrador, and I am incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”

Ms. Hutchings is a student recruitment, retention and relationships officer at Memorial’s Labrador Campus.

She completed a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in geography and minoring in sociology, at Memorial in 2021 and is now pursuing a master’s of arctic and subarctic futures degree at the Labrador Campus.

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