The Rolling Barrage, a 19 day coast to coast motorcycle ride and fundraiser, is set to cruise its way through the streets of Fernie on August 20.
Led by a group of military personnel and passionate civilians, the ride seeks to break the stigma surrounding post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans and first responders, while connecting those dealing with the disorder.
The annual Rolling Barrage has been raising both awareness and funds on its journey throughout the country since 2017. Coinciding with the 100 year anniversary of The Battle of Vimy Ridge, the event was named after the creeping barrage, a tactic used to win the infamous battle.
Abiding by all provincial COVID-19 regulations, the ride begins in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and culminates in Kelowna, British Columbia. Special guests attending this year’s rally include celebrities Julian Austin and Clayton Bellamy, as well as Canadian veterans The Singing Soldiers.
Joined by Fernie’s first responders, the fleet of riders will stop in Fernie for a socially distant lunch at the Community Centre. The lunches will be prepackaged by Infinitea T-Bar, and purchased in part by donations from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36.
“This is very close to my heart,” said Fernie local and event participant, Nigel Colley. “I am ex-military, and I’ve lost three very close friends to PTSD, and by being out there in public and getting this out by word of mouth and social media, we are trying to encourage veterans and first responders to talk about suicide and their dark feelings. There’s a good point to my tears here, the entire point behind this is to break that stigma and to break the silence, and to let people know that it’s okay to talk about this, to come out and get some help.”
Though the event is predominantly a motorcycle rally for Canadian Armed Forces personnel and first responders, the public is encouraged to get involved and show their support. Participants may join the rally at any point along the route, whether in a car, motorcycle, or by cheering and waving as the barrage passes by on Highway 3.
The ride is presented by Military Minds Inc., a peer to peer PTSD support group created to connect members to programs, services, and one another. According to their website, the main goal of the Rolling Barrage is to create and maintain a supportive veteran and first responder community, providing these groups with chances to connect and bond over their experiences. Registration for the event begins at $30 and varies according to the number of passengers and days participating, with all proceeds going towards operational retreats across the country.
The retreats donated to include Rally Point Retreat in Nova Scotia, where serving members, first responders, and veterans struggling with PTSD, alongside immediate family, can go to interact with and support one another. Another similar retreat being donated to is Sheepdog Lodge in Alberta. British Columbia’s Camp My Way is also being fundraised for, providing outdoor adventure based programming to help those struggling with PTSD. A portion of the funds raised will also go to the Honour House Society, a refuge for the aforementioned groups to stay in free of charge while receiving medical care in the Vancouver area.
For more information or to register for a leg of the ride, visit the Rolling Barrage’s Facebook page or website at Therollingbarage.com. To donate, contact Fernie volunteer April Atherton at 250-531-0267.