By Anna Smith
he Ranchland Teepee Rest Area, 17 kilometres west of Brooks, now features a memorial for the life, and sacrifice, of Corporal Stephen Gibson, following a dedication ceremony on Sept. 26.
“Today we have the privilege of being here along with 1 MP Regiment to pay tribute to Corporal Gibson, Steven Gibson, who died 20 years ago today on his first day of military policing duty after having graduated from our military police academy,” said Colonel Vanessa Hanrahan.
Gibson had been the safety escort for the annual Terry Fox Run, said Hanrahan, when his patrol car was unfortunately struck by a tractor trailer at a high rate of speed.
To honour Gibson for his sacrifice, and those like him who have done similar in the name of duty and the lives of their fellow Canadians, the plaque has been put up on the site alongside the Trans-Canada Highway, where travellers are already inclined to stop and recuperate, so that they might learn about him and take a moment to reflect.
“It was certainly an area that was conducive of people having a minute and being able to take the time, versus putting something somewhere near the tragic site of the accident, whereby we felt it would probably be a little unsafe for people to pull in there,” said Hanrahan. “And it wasn’t conducive to them actually taking time or somewhere Canadians would naturally stop to see what it is. Whereas here it’s likely people will stop if it’s just to use the restroom and maybe get to learn a little bit about one of their Canadian heroes.”
The event was attended by Members of 1 Military Police Regiment, dignitaries including the Honourable Salma Lakhani, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, and Gibson’s father and fiance at the time of the accident.
It was a bittersweet affair, said Hanrahan, due to both the nature of the accident 20 years ago, but such a dedication also allows the chance to highlight the risk that these people are willing to take to ensure the wellbeing of their fellow Canadians.
“You’re always honoured to be able to show Canadians this sacrifice that whether it’s a Canadian Forces Military Police person or a Canadian Forces person or just policing in general the sacrifice they are willing to make every day. It’s kind of nice to be able to show Canadians and remember Corporal Gibson, but it’s bitter in the fact that you’re remembering Corporal Gibson because he had to give the ultimate sacrifice,” said Hanrahan. “But having his dad here today and seeing his dad being so open and so honest about you know, surviving which is exactly what it is. I believe that we give our lives so people have a life and that’s exactly what you can see here.”
“I like to believe that as a result of his ultimate sacrifice, many people along the run are actually alive and well today,” said Hanrahan.