Thursday, June 8, 2023
June 8, 2023

Salt Spring Pathfinders place poppies on veterans’ headstones

 A contingent of Salt Spring Island’s Pathfinders joined volunteers identifying and honouring service members’ graves at the Ganges Cemetery on Friday, Nov. 4. 

With the help of maps, notes, hammers and hot chocolate, the girls drove bamboo stakes and attached red poppies as a “starting point” for a Remembrance Day research project. The effort for the Pathfinders will culminate in a video presentation, according to Mary Rowles, who organized the poppy placement in partnership with the national No Stone Left Alone campaign. 

“No Stone Left Alone reached out to us,” said Rowles, “and by happy coincidence, they were already doing some work around Remembrance Day.” 

No Stone Left Alone was launched in 2011 to “help ensure an enduring national respect and gratitude for the sacrifice of the Canadian men and women who lost their lives in the service of peace,” according to organizers; the goal around Remembrance Day is to ensure every soldier’s headstone has a poppy placed in their honour. 

“Pathfinders emphasize community service,” said Rowles. “This is a very small exercise, on the way to them being present in the Remembrance Day event next Friday, and talking to their parents, or grandparents or uncles or whoever has any memories — not just about military service, but about how their family was affected by any of the wars in the 20th century.” 

Rowles said as the relatives get older and the history fainter, oral histories are harder to gather; the hope is that the Pathfinders’ projects will help create a more direct line between the girls and the experiences of their elders. 

“Sometimes grandparents didn’t talk about it, as one might expect,” said Rowles. “I think they’re going to be surprised how many stories there are.” 


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