“No Stone Left Alone” is an annual event held during veterans week, when students across Canada honour those who served by visiting local cemeteries and laying poppies on the headstones of veterans.
In 2011, Albertan Maureen Purvis established “No Stone Left Alone” in recognition of the sacrifice of the Canadian men and women who lost their lives in military service.
Her ultimate mission was that eventually all of Canada’s veterans, in whatever cemetery they are buried, would have a poppy placed on their headstone, evoking the memory of Flanders Fields where, as the poem says, “the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row.”
On November 8, G.P. Vanier School participated for the first time in “No Stone Left Alone,” with 33 Grade 9 students placing poppies on veteran’s headstones at cemeteries in McLennan, Donnelly, Guy, Falher, Girouxville and Jean Cote with one high school student making the trip to a cemetery in Culp to place poppies.
The day began with a brief ceremony at McLennan Royal Canadian Legion cenotaph attended by members of the Legion including Legion president David Champion.
At the cenotaph observance, Vanier teacher and event coordination Marion Lessard said a few words, and band teacher and Vanier vice-principal Pam Heckbert played the last post before the students made their first stop at McLennan cemetery.
Each student had a list of particular veterans names and a corresponding number of poppies to be placed on those veterans graves.
To make finding the graves easier for the kids, community volunteers visited the cemeteries earlier to place Canadian flags on the soldiers’ graves. The G.P. Vanier “No Stone Left Alone” started shortly after 9am and finished at approximately 2pm, with the students having placed poppies at all six cemeteries in the region.
Fortunately, the weather on the November 8 was sunny and unseasonably warm with no snow on the ground, making it easier for kids to find the headstones on their lists and in some instances they discovered some additional military headstones.
“I don’t think we will have weather like this ever again. It was a very nice day for our first ‘No Stone Left Alone,'” says Marion Lessard. “At some of the cemeteries we realized that there were military headstones that were not on our list, so we were able to put a poppy on their grave and add that name to the list for next year.”
Lessard also said that if anyone in the community thinks a veteran’s headstone may have been overlooked and did not have a poppy placed on it, they should call G.P. Vanier School at 780 925-3959 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.