The City of Moose Jaw held an honour parade Saturday afternoon.
15 Wing Freedom, the centre of the Royal Canadian Air Force air crew training, located just south of Moose Jaw, was celebrating their “Freedom of the City”.
Freedom of the City is a tradition that started in 15th century England during the war of roses, while cities were being invaded.
The prestigious event drew hundreds to Main Street, as cadets marched from Crescent Park to the police station.
Back then, the army would have to stop at the city limits and explain why they wanted to be in the town.
It was a lengthy process where military officials would sit down with the royals and or town chambers explaining why their army should be trusted not to invade.
They would then if proven trustworthy, be given freedom to the city. Saturday afternoon in downtown Moose Jaw mirrored that process, and the 15 Wing was able to celebrate their freedom of the city.
A public parade marked the esteemed honour, originally given in 1978. Moose Jaw Mayor Deb Higgins said 15 Wing is a major contributor to the community.
“There’s lots of interaction lots of communications that go back and forth between the city and the air base, and it’s like having a neighbor, a good neighbor.. One with planes that are quiet entertaining at times,” Higgins said with a smile.
“I think it highlights to the community just how important 15 wing is in the city.”
When the tradition began overseas, soldiers would march through the new city after being granted freedom. Flags would fly, drums would beat and bayonets in tow as soldiers showed thanks for their welcoming, mirroring the current day parade.
“Our members of the wing, are members of the city, they live in the town, we enjoy living here,” Col. Alex Day, Parade Commander said.
It’s also the 75th anniversary of the British Commonwealth Air Training Program. Moose Jaw is the lone air force base in the province, and a highly sought after career. Capt. Tony Colussi former Navy said he switched career paths after realizing his dream was to fly.
“You don’t get a second chance to follow your dreams very often,” Colussi explained.
“Flying planes is by far one of the greatest things I have ever done, and I will ever do.”
With over 500 members of 15 wing, Saturday’s turnout proves the base is a staple of the community.