June 23: Oakville Grows Remembrance

With three stops scheduled within Oakville in one day, the tour crew, and the many volunteers on hand, had a busy day. The first stop had The Portraits of Honour set up at Oakville Place Mall, where highlights included local police offering an impromptu escort to our second location after being deeply moved by the portraits. 

At St. Dominics School, our second stop of the day, the students got to view the portraits as a reward for months of hard work. After being taught about the loss of local fallen hero Colonel Geoff Parker, the children had each presented an idea as to how to best memorialize Colonel Parker and his other 155 fallen comrades from Afghanistan and fallen Canadian soldiers from past conflicts. The chosen idea was a memorial garden and the children had worked hard to raise money in a variety of ways to fund the project. Before appearing at the school and speaking to the students, artist Dave Sopha visited the memorial garden to sprinkle some sand from Afghanistan as a tribute. When told about this the children were very excited and it was clear to all present that the seeds of remembrance had been planted in these young hearts. 

For the third and final stop of the day, Portraits of Honour visited the local legion where many members of the community came out to enjoy a fundraising dinner and pay their respects to those depicted. A number of people who had been directly touched by the loss of these brave young men and women were present, including aunts, uncles, teachers, cousins, ministers and friends. When asked what the portrait meant to him, a friend  of Geoff Parker remarked " the Portraits of Honour mean that respect for people like Geoff and the sacrifice he made is growing again in Canada, that people aren't just going to forget him and aren't going to forget what it costs us to help other people." 

We couldn't agree more.