Each year, six members of the Canadian Armed Forces and one RCMP officer are selected from across the country as sentinels for the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.
From a large pool of nominees for this year’s event, a Saskatoon-area police officer has been chosen as this year’s RCMP sentinel.
Cpl. Rielly Knock, who is currently stationed in the communities of Warman and Martensville, Sask., Has participated in Remembrance Day ceremonies in the past.
Saskatoon Civic Services for Remembrance Day
However, he called this a special opportunity in his career.
“Being chosen to represent the RCMP and being the one for everyone to see this year is an experience like no other,” Knock admitted when speaking to Global News ahead of Remembrance Day.
According to the Remembrance Day Sentinel Program, the seven sentinels keep watch at the National War Memorial in Ottawa during ceremonies on November 11.
Knock, an openly transgender man, is excited to not only represent the province in which he was born and raised, but also the LGBTQ2 community.
“Representing the 2SLGBTQ + community and showing that being a part of this community is not really going to hinder you in any way in your career is a great honor,” said Knock.
“I want to do everything possible to honor those who served in the wars and the members of the RCMP who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”
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He hopes his platform of being open about 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 have changed policies because of my willingness and that of others to be open about who they are, ”said Knock.
“Whether or not I’m the first out or even the first trans person to do this, for me it’s about being open and transparent and direct.”
Knock wanted to mention that he and the RCMP hope to honor a specific WWII victim during Thursday’s ceremony.
He said he will represent Cpl. Charlie Johnstone of Number One Provost Company – a group made up of volunteer members of the RCMP to control convoys and roads during the war.
Knock shared that Johnstone was the RCMP’s first fatality in WWII when the SS Nerissa was torpedoed and sank on April 30, 1941 in the Atlantic Ocean.
A positive step towards greater representation
Sentinels are chosen based on criteria including deployment experience, community involvement, physical fitness, and behavioral history.
Knock is known for his involvement and volunteering 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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Members of local LGBTQ2 communities, including OUTSaskatoon, say that Knock’s selection for this type of event is an important step towards good quality representation on the national stage.
“It is building new systems that are less harmful to marginalize communities within an institution like the RCMP. It’s great to see that, ”said Krystal Nieckar, who serves as the CEO of OUTSaskatoon.
Nieckar said it is critical to have this representation for young people, especially in rural Saskatchewan, considering that police officers are seen as leaders.
She believes that good work is being done in the province to reduce discrimination and that Knock’s involvement helps create more positivity on this front.
“Moving that needle in conservative communities like Saskatchewan is a big problem,” Nieckar said. “To have this opportunity and to be from Saskatchewan is great.
The national Remembrance Day event will air nationally on Thursday.
Memorial stone at the University of Saskatchewan
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