No Stone Left Alone: School children remember the fallen


A veteran prays during a No Stone Left Alone Ceremony at the Esquimalt Veterans Cemetery (God’s Acre).


Peter Mallett, Staff Writer

They may be gone, but the supreme sacrifices of Canada’s war dead aren’t being forgotten by Canada’s next generation.

This year’s Nov. 6 No Stone Left Alone event saw more than 60 Grade 6 students from Rockheights Middle School honoured and solemnly remember the selfless acts of heroism by Canadians in uniform, by placing poppies on over 2,000 gravesites at Esquimalt’s national historic site, God’s Acre Veterans Cemetery.

“The goal of the No Stone Left Alone ceremony is to educate and engage youth in honouring every soldier who has fought for our Canadian freedoms, and to ensure their acts of bravery are remembered and never forgotten,” said Rockheights Middle School Principal, Maryanne Trofimuk.

The annual campaign was launched in 2011 by Edmonton’s Maureen G. Bianchini in an effort to recognize the nation’s fallen by placing a poppy on the headstones at military fields of honor.

This year’s commemorative event involved 3,400 students in B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories, placing a total of 20,000 poppies on military gravesites.

In Esquimalt, a gathering of over 250 people – students and current and former military members – remembered the cost of war during a ceremony at the Colville Road cemetery. The burial ground was originally built by Rear Admiral George Fowler-Hastings in 1868 as a place of rest for Royal Navy sailors, but has since expanded to encompass all members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

“Ceremonies such as the one today remind us that freedom comes with a cost, while also providing the opportunity to thank the veterans past and present who put on the uniform of the Canadian Armed Forces and serve Canada proudly,” said LCdr Michael Erwin during his address.

Formation chaplain Major Dave Donevan then led the gathering in prayer, followed by two students reading fictional wartime letters penned by students. The essays were meant to embody the sentiments of both those at home and on the front lines during the First World War and highlight the chaos and destruction of combat.

“Today’s event reminds me a lot of my grandfather because he served in the Second World War and died,” said Rockheights student Scarlett Wallace. “We should give the same respect to all of them because they gave so much to us for serving Canada.”
Students then placed poppies on the marked headstones of soldiers, sailors and airmen. The ceremony concluded with the laying of a wreath at the site’s cenotaph.

The gratitude and interest of the students wasn’t lost on many of the veterans attending the event. Gerry Webb served in the army, navy and air force during his 30-year military career and felt the No Stone Left Alone initiative is a sign of the rejuvenation of the national consciousness surrounding Remembrance Day.

“In the previous decades Canadian society seemed to be drifting away from the idea of remembering the sacrifices made in World War One, Two and Korea, mostly by young people,” said Webb. “Recently, we’ve lost a lot of young people, as well and a lot of people in Afghanistan. I think this helps revive that nationalistic spirit.”

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