A number of riders eat their lunch at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36 in Fernie. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Rolling Barrage makes a pit stop in Fernie

The country-wide event raises awareness about PTSD in veterans and first responders

The Rolling Barrage wheeled its way through the Elk Valley on Aug. 20, stopping over for lunch at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36.

A 19 day cross-Canada motorcycle ride, the Rolling Barrage raises funds and awareness for veterans and first responders suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

A pit stop in Fernie was organized by April Atherton, whose brother, Nigel Colley, is a veteran and longtime participant of the Rolling Barrage. Upon attending last year, Atherton noticed a lack of local awareness for the event, taking it upon herself to organize this year’s event.

“My brother came through Fernie with the Rolling Barrage last year, however nobody knew of it, so I thought people should,” said Atherton.

Spending an hour at the Legion, the fleet of over 45 riders, some of which came from as far as Ontario, ate lunches donated by the Legion and the Atherton family.

A number of Fernie’s first responders also attended the event to show their support, including three firefighters and four police officers.

Operating annually since 2017, the event seeks to break the stigma associated with PTSD, while establishing a supportive community of veterans, first responders, and their loved ones.

Named after the creeping barrage, a tactic employed in the infamous Battle of Vimy Ride, the event was created by Military Minds Inc., a peer to peer support group geared towards connecting those dealing with PTSD to services, programs, and others facing the disorder.

Ensuring the event continued despite the pandemic, this year’s ride began in Halifax on Aug. 3, and ended in Vancouver on Aug. 22.

“Our job is to look after veterans, it doesn’t matter where they’re from, they’re veterans,” said Jeannie Watson, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36. “This is the first time they’ve stopped at the branch and we wish them luck and hope they raise millions of dollars.”

Following their stopover in Fernie, the riders continued to Cranbrook, where they spent the evening before heading to Kelowna the next day.

“If you’ve had any military people in the family or you’ve been in the military, you know what PTSD is all about,” said Paul Boulanger, a rider who began the ride in Port Dover, Ontario. “We’re hoping the suits in Ottawa see this event and put more money towards supporting PTSD in soldiers and first responders.”

All funds raised by the registration for the Rolling Barrage go towards operational retreats across Canada, serving first responders and veterans struggling with PTSD, alongside their immediate family.

For more information on the Rolling Barrage or to donate to the cause, visit their Facebook page or website at militarymindsinc.com/rolling-barrage/.


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The motorcyclists make their way out of Fernie, following a pit stop at the Legion. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

The Rolling Barrage creeps into Fernie this past Thursday. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Over 45 riders participated in the Elk Valley stretch of this year’s Rolling Barrage. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Local event participant, Nigel Colley, prepares to drive to the next destination. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

A number of Fernie’s first responders were present at the event. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

The Rolling Barrage was full of men and women from all over Canada. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Paul Boulanger and Scott Gullion share smiles at this year’s pit stop in Fernie. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Event organizer, April Atherton, stands alongside her brother and longtime participant of the Rolling Barrage, Nigel Colley. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Scott Gullion stands proudly next to his motorcycle. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

The event in Fernie drew together over 45 cyclists who raised awareness and funds for those struggling with PTSD. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

A veteran and rider corralled the cyclists upon entering Fernie. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

The riders came from all over the country in an effort to raise awareness for PTDS. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

Nigel Colley, a veteran and participant in the ride, connected with his fellow riders. (Soranne Floarea/ The Free Press)

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