After Sgt. Nathan Cirillo's violent, tragic, and senseless death just over two weeks ago in Ottawa, this year's remembrance day season feels a bit closer to home, as the distant and often second-hand memories of wars and conflicts past find a reflection in the temporal nearness of the violence in our capital.
Earlier this week, we learned that the remains of one of the fallen soldiers, a grenadiers, was one of our own, a recent immigrant to Manitoba.
But it doesn't change how we are to respond - to remember is to believe the world can be a better place, and acknowledge the small part our veterans played and continue to play in that process. We fear what do not know, and we do not know what we do not try to remember. So remember we must, and remember we shall.
Three groups (and many more than I've mentioned, I'm certain) are making efforts to support veterans and those still on the frontlines facing war. Here they are!
Westgrove School in Charleswoood is undertaking a massive student art project. The crochet and sewing club started by receptionist Tanya Pankiewich and Educational Assistant Liz Hare has got students into the crafting of handmade poppies to be sold to raise money for the fund set up for slain soldier Cirillo's son. Even though they take between half an hour to an hour to create, already 350 have been made, and over $500 raised. You can buy those poppies at Westgrove school between 8m and 4pm.
The Assiniboine Zoo is also making a significant contribution. During Remembrance Day week, from the 9th to 18th of November, Veterans and members of the Canadian Armed Forces will get into Zoo exhibits for free! Director of zoological operations Dr. Brian Joseph, himself an army reserve veteran, says it is so important to remember the the personal sacrifices of those serving in the armed forces, sacrifices he has seen first hand.
The Achmadiyya Muslims of Canada are making perhaps the most special contribution of all. Local members of the community held a protest a week ago to renounce violence and the Ottawa attacks, as well as radicalization. But tomorrow, along with their Friday prayers, they will pause across the nation to reflect on the service and sacrifice of the armed forces on behalf of Canada, both now and in past conflicts. Their communities will also be taking up an offering to be presented to the Royal Canadian Legion.
These are just some of the many ways in which Winnipegers and Canadians alike are going the extra mile to remember the extraordinary sacrifices of our veterans service men and women beyond the single moment of silence during the Remembrance Day ceremonies that are now very familiar to us. How will you choose to remember?