September 7: Grand Inspiration in Grande Prairie

Though there were many memorable moments in Grande Prairie, no one could argue that the most memorable of all was a speech given by wounded Afghanistan Veteran, MCpl. Paul Franklin, who lost both legs above the knee as result of a blast in 2006.

While describing his time in Afghanistan and even his injury, his trauma and his painstaking recovery, he had a great sense of humour and an incredibly positive attitude.

“We don’t talk about the disability, we talk about ability, not what we can’t do but what we can do,” he said.

This statement, so simple and yet so powerful, resonates through absolutely everything this project is about.

For the Canadian Forces we are supporting – They cannot change generations of oppression and judgment overnight, but they can, and do, look elders in the eyes and offer a hand shake, give a girl a chance to go to school and teach a nation’s government, military and health system, helping to sculpt a different future.

For the families we are embracing – They cannot hold their loved one in their arms, but they can share their stories with the Canadians that gather at the Portraits of Honour and other memorials, telling them of a real person with hopes, dreams and fears, illustrating the cost of our freedoms like no one else can.

For the wounded coming home – We cannot restore them to the person they were before they were injured, but we can help to fund programs and service groups that will allow them to enjoy the person they are now and to successfully embrace a “new normal” despite the challenges they may face.

We, who have relied on and benefited from the sacrifices of the brave young men and women depicted on the mural and those like them that came before, cannot bring back those who have fallen.

We can however, give a little or a lot in support of those coming home with lasting physical and emotional injuries, we can bring some comfort to their families in showing them that their loved one will not be forgotten, and we can,  and we WILL, come together to remember them, honour them, and celebrate them.