Saskatchewan RCMP officer chosen as sentry for national Remembrance Day ceremony

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WATCH: Canadians from coast to coast will be tuning in to watch the national Remembrance Day ceremony on Thursday in Ottawa. Moises Canales-Lavigne has the story on one Saskatchewan transgender man who will have a big role in the event – Nov 10, 2021

Each year, six Canadian Armed Forces members and one RCMP officer are selected from around the country as sentries for the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.

Out of a large pool of nominees for this year’s event, a police officer from the Saskatoon area has been chosen as this year’s RCMP sentry.

Cpl. Rielly Knock, who is currently stationed in the communities of Warman and Martensville, Sask., has participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies in the past.

Read more: Saskatoon civic services for Remembrance Day

However he called this a special opportunity in his career.

“Being chosen to represent the RCMP and be the one that everybody gets to see this year is an experience like nothing else,” admitted Knock when speaking to Global News ahead of Remembrance Day.

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According to the Remembrance Day Sentry Program, the seven sentries stand vigil at the National War Memorial in Ottawa during ceremonies held on Nov. 11.

An openly transgender man, Knock is excited to not only represent the province he was born and raised in, but the LGBTQ2 community as well.

“To represent the 2SLGBTQ+ community and show that being a part of this community really isn’t going to hinder you in any way in your career is a huge honour,” Knock said.

“I want to do my best to honour those who served in the wars and the RCMP members who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”

Read more: Century-old letter reveals story of family’s WWI grief and pride

He hopes his platform of being open with his experiences as a transgender man will make things easier for the next generation.

“Being open about it has really helped change the way the organization thinks about minority communities. We’ve changed policies because of my and other people’s willingness to be open about who they are,” Knock stated.

“Whether or not I am the first out or even the first trans person to do this, for me it’s about being open and about being transparent and upfront.”

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Cpl. Rielly Knock, pictured here saluting the National War Memorial in Ottawa, has been selected as RCMP sentry for Thursday’s national Remembrance Day ceremony. Luigi Della Penta / Global News

Knock wanted to mention that he and the RCMP are hoping to honour a specific casualty from the Second World War during Thursday’s ceremony.

He said he’ll be representing Cpl. Charlie Johnstone of Number One Provost Company — a group formed by volunteer members of the RCMP to control convoys and roads during the war.

Knock shared that Johnstone was the RCMP’s first fatal casualty in the Second World War when the SS Nerissa was torpedoed and sank on Apr. 30, 1941 in the Atlantic Ocean.

A positive step towards more representation

Sentries are picked based on criteria including deployment experience, community involvement, physical fitness and their record of conduct.

Knock is known for his involvement and volunteerism in the community, including two years ago when he spent three days in Toronto discussing LGBTQ2 issues in the police force.

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Read more: Sask. RCMP officer aims to strengthen relations between LGBTQ and police

Members of local LGBTQ2 communities — including OUTSaskatoon — say Knock’s selection for this type of event is an important step to have good quality representation on the national stage.

“He’s building new systems that are less harmful to marginalize communities within an institution like the RCMP. That is so good to see,” said Krystal Nieckar, who serves as executive director for OUTSaskatoon.

Nieckar said it’s critical to have this representation for youth, especially in rural Saskatchewan, considering police officers are viewed as leaders.

She believes good work is happening in the province to reduce discrimination and that Knock’s participation helps create more positivity on this front.

“To be moving that needle in conservative communities like Saskatchewan is a pretty big deal,” Nieckar noted. “To have this opportunity and be from Saskatchewan is pretty cool.

The national Remembrance Day event will broadcast nationally on Thursday.

Click to play video: 'Memorial Stone at University of Saskatchewan' Memorial Stone at University of Saskatchewan
Memorial Stone at University of Saskatchewan – Nov 8, 2021

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