It’s a symbol meant to show the weight of mental health stress on first responders and military personnel.
The rucksack is a giant backpack filled with everything a soldier would require before heading out onto the field.
On Saturday, those rucksacks were symbolically filled and strapped on to the backs of 70 participants from different backgrounds for a 22-kilometre trek through Edmonton’s river valley.
“Some of the people we have here today are really struggling with PTSD,” said Ian Hall, event organizer. “To get them out of their house and here at the start line — it’s a big deal.”
The goal of the Rucksack March for Remembrance is to raise awareness of first responders and military personnel suffering from PTSD or Occupational Stress Injury and depression.
Money raised from the event goes towards the Wounded Warriors Foundation. The goal is to raise $10,000.
“We want veterans to know they are not alone,” said Sylvie Boy, a spokesperson for Wounded Warriors Canada. “It’s very hard for them to ask for help.
“We need people to know what our veterans are suffering from, it’s a big load, it’s invisible- yet it’s here we cannot ignore it.”
“We’ve got a good mix of firefighters, paramedics, military serving, military veterans — there’s a lot of people that have stuff in common out here so they can find someone that is in a similar boat,” Hall added.
“For a lot of us, we’re ok, we’re in good places. But we know people that aren’t and we’re trying to get them support.”
Chelsea Drangsholt and her husband, a military veteran who suffers from PTSD, volunteered in the event.
“It’s important people reach out, ask questions, no matter the community your from — there are resources out there,” Drangsholt said.
Donations can be made at www.ruck4rem.ca until November 24.