Afghanistan war to be forever remembered in memorial

An artist’s rendering depicts the design for the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project’s monument. Photo Credit GVAMP

An artist’s rendering depicts the design for the Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project’s monument. Photo Credit GVAMP

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Efforts by a local citizens’ group to erect a highly visible downtown memorial honouring those Canadians that served in Afghanistan are moving forward.

The Greater Victoria Afghanistan Memorial Project (GVAMP) was formed two years ago in an effort to recognize the 40,000 Canadians who served in Afghanistan between September 2001 and March 2014, and the 163 that lost their lives.

The monument will be located in the downtown core close to Christ Church Cathedral and will be made from 20,000 lb. of granite slabs and measure 11 feet long, eight feet high. It will feature a Canadian soldier reaching out to the outstretched hand of an Afghan child. The cost estimate for the memorial is $177,000.

Official fundraising efforts will begin in the New Year; however, the GVAMP had an encouraging sign after a Sept. 28 meeting at the Bay Street Armoury. Four donors from Victoria made significant donations towards the project.

“Despite the initial donation there is still plenty of work to do, including working with all levels of government,” says Brigadier-General (Ret’d) Joseph Gollner, President of the GVAMP Society.

He served 37 years in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) before his retirement in 1993. After his retirement, BGen Gollner, while Honorary Colonel of the Regiment Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI), twice visited PPCLI battlegroups in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2010.

“Our mission is to create a memorial that will recognize the contribution of all the 40,000 CAF members and public servants that served in Afghanistan and their families. The memorial will also recognize those Afghanistan campaign veterans that continue to suffer with physical and mental wounds. Finally, the memorial will recognize and honour those Canadians that paid the supreme sacrifice to protect our freedoms,” he says.

Each individual’s name will be on the memorial.

The initiative to create an Afghanistan memorial originally came from Victoria City Councillor Chris Coleman in 2011. Coleman made a motion after a discussion with the family of Lt Andrew Nuttall, PPCLI, who was killed in action during his tour of Afghanistan in 2009. He says the memorial is an automatic for Victoria because so many people in the Capital Regional District are connected to Afghanistan in one way or another. He noted the memorial will also commemorate other aspects of the war that are sometimes forgotten, including the advances in human rights that were brought about by Canadian participation in Afghanistan.

“For me one of the benchmarks we never talk about is that when Canada started their mission in Afghanistan there was fewer than three million Afghanistan children in school, and fewer than 10 per cent of those students were girls. Twelve years later there are eight million Afghan children in school and three million of them are girls. These are profound changes that our nation should be celebrating but often does not,” says Coleman.

Gollner encourages anyone interested in supporting the GVAMP to contact them through their website:

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  1. I have to say St. Patrick’s Day 2017 turned out to be a buzz of activity on the site of the new playground behind the Law Courts and opposite Christ Church Cathedral. I volunteered together with other parishioners from Christ Church Cathedral and including several other community organizations. If I had not been on the site that day I would not have met Retired Brigadier-General Gollner who very graciously pointed out where the
    Victoria Afghanistan Memorial monument is to be situated and the story behind this project.
    For that reason I hereby submit my cheque for $50.00, under separate cover, towards this very worthwhile project.


    S. Jane Colgan.

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