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/.