Special ceremony pays tribute to veterans

G.P. Vanier Grade 9 student Sophia Carbone places a poppy on the headstone of Wilbrod A. Girard’s grave. Standing at attention are High Prairie Legion Sergeant-at-Arms John Paddon and McLennan Legion past president Dave Champion.

Emily Plihal
Local Journalism
Initiative Reporter

Grade Nine students from Donnelly Georges P. Vanier and Falher Ecole Heritage schools visited fallen soldiers’ tombstones in the Smoky River Region on Nov. 7 to ensure every fallen veteran is remembered.

The students participated in efforts created by No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation to honour and remember Canada’s veterans. The purpose of the initiative is to provide students and youth with an experience that creates knowledge, understanding and appreciation of those who serve.

Former GPV teacher Marion Lessard says the school has been involved for the last eight years.

“It’s important to have students connect the past to the present and to always remember,” says Lessard.

“Students place a poppy on each veteran’s headstone at six cemeteries within the Municipal District of
Smoky River.”

Students visited cemeteries in McLennan, Donnelly, Guy, Falher, Girouxville, and Jean Cote to honour fallen soldiers from their community.

“To never forget the past, we need to keep their memory alive and to do our part towards a peaceful future,” says Lessard.

“Friends and I place Canadian flags at the veterans graves prior to the students going to the cemeteries,” she adds. “The McLennan Legion and Ladies Auxiliary, teachers at Georges P. Vanier and Heritage help organize the students’ visit.”

Lessard says that 51 students visited 138 headstones, with local veterans on hand to see the students pay respect to their comrades.

“When I saw the initiative nine years ago, I was very grateful that a poppy would be placed on my parents’ headstones as they both served during World War II and I wasn’t always able to be in Edmonton on Nov. 11,” says Lessard, who notes that the initiative has a special place in her heart.

“It occurred to me that we could do the same for the veterans in our community.”

The No Stone Left Alone website says the initiative ensures youth learn to honour Canada’s veterans through personal acts of remembrance, gratitude, and citizenship, every year, forever.

Students were easily able to find the graves of veterans because a Canadian flag was placed at each site. Above, Donnelly G.P Vanier Grade 9 student Justin Tokarz lays a poppy.
Donnelly G.P Vanier Grade 9 student Hailey Turcotte lays a poppy at a gravesite.

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