Legacy of Honour founder receives VAC Commendation 

Don Foster

Second World War veteran Cdr (Retired) Peter Chance (left) prepares for an interview at his home in Sidney, B.C., with Don Foster of the Legacy of Honour video collection. Credit: Legacy of Honour

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

An Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel has been recognized for his video project featuring veterans’ accounts of the D-Day landings.

Don Foster, a Senior Investment Advisor with BMO Nesbitt Burns, volunteers as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of the Vancouver-based 15th Field Artillery Regiment army reserve unit. On March 3, he was presented with a Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation.

The award comes mostly for his tireless work establishing and directing the Juno Beach Centre’s Legacy of Honour video collection. The Juno Beach Centre is a museum established in 2003, built to tell the story of Canadian military members at war and to preserve their legacy for future generations.  It is located in Normandy, France, on a section of beach where 14,000 troops landed on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Foster launched the centre’s video program in 2017. The collection of oral histories offers veterans’ accounts of their experiences landing on the beaches.

“The award embodies everything I have been doing with my colleagues at the Juno Beach Centre,” he says. “Our efforts are to acknowledge the difference those who served have made to our freedoms we enjoy in Canada.”

The Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation was established in 2001 to formally recognize outstanding volunteer service to the veteran community, or individuals who represent commendable role models for fellow veterans. Five other B.C. residents were honoured during the ceremony, which was presented via Zoom.

Upon accepting his commendation Foster acknowledged the work of his videographer Chris Ainscough. The pair travel across the country to interview veterans in their homes and capture their stories.   

He was nominated for the award by two Canadian Second World War veterans featured in his project, George Chow and Norm Kirby, who have both since passed away. Foster says he develops true friendships with many of the veterans he meets that extends well past his duties with the project.

“If they didn’t go there on D-Day where would we be? They paid the price. Many of the men who landed on that beach in France returned home with wounds, and I know my father carried those memories with him his entire life.”

Foster visited the Normandy beach in 2009 with his wife and three children. The visit came following the death of his father, a D-Day survivor, that same year.

“We had already had the funeral service for Dad, but for some reason there was such a strong spiritual connection with my father that developed when I visited the site. [Juno Beach Centre]” he says.

Donald Senior was a Gunner and Signaller in the 43rd Battery, 12th Field Regiment Royal Canadian Artillery. His regiment was part of the 7th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Canadian Division that landed on Juno Beach on D-Day.

Foster’s father married his wife Norma Jean prior to shipping out for Europe. The two kept in constant contact by mail with over 300 letters that have been preserved by the family.

“They planned their entire lives and future together in these letters,” says Foster.

The letters helped him realize why first-hand accounts of veterans are so important in understanding and preserving history.

“Their time on this earth is now short and these men and women are not going to be here forever. We created this video program to share their stories and to help people realize that listening to these veterans and hearing their stories is just like talking to your own father/mother or grandfather/grandmother.”

To view Legacy of Honour videos and hear the stories of veterans visit the Juno Beach Centre website https://www.junobeach.org/legacy-of-honour/

VAC Commendation

Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation Pin

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