Alberta school honours children from military families

Click to play video: 'Alberta school honours children from military families'
Alberta school honours children from military families
WATCH: Children from families who are in the military gathered at Guthrie School in Sturgeon County for a celebration. The event was meant to honour them for the challenges children face as loved ones serve for the country. Kabi Moulitharan explains. – Apr 12, 2024

Children from families who are in the military gathered at a school north of Edmonton Friday for a special celebration.

Teal Up Day was marked at Guthrie School in Sturgeon County. The initiative is meant to honour all military children for the challenges they face and the sacrifices they make, coming from parents who serve their country.

“Military children face challenges. They face parents who are deployed and they are often separated from their families for long periods of time,” school counsellor Cindy Vandervaate said.

The day included fun events for the kids, including a pancake breakfast and hotdog lunch.

“We have military vehicles, we have a weapons display, we have a helicopter landing in our field today. We have carnival games,” Vandervaate said. “Today is just a day that they can have a great time, have fun, just really see what their parents do… We just want the kids to have a really good day.”

Story continues below advertisement

Guthrie School has a strong military family presence. Unlike most families, military families are often on the move, leaving schools, activities and friends behind.

Grade 7 student Christian Pickell was born in St. Albert. His dad is an armoured soldier in the military. Before he turned one year old, Pickell and his family moved to New Brunswick. They lived there for three to four years and then moved to Petawawa, Ont. The family relocated back to Edmonton about four years ago.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

While it’s exciting to move and experience new places, Pickell said it’s also difficult.

“You lose all your friends that you had in the place before and maybe even family members that lived there with you,” he said. “And now you’re in a different place and you have no idea what this place is, you’ve never been here before. It’s difficult.”

He loves the friends he’s made here in Edmonton.

“These might be the best friends of my life and I even had a friend who was my best friend in Petawawa and he moved back here,” Pickell explained.

He said events like the one held Friday are important.

“It means a lot because I think military children are some of the best children in the world. We’re brave, resilient,” he said. “Military children are really important and we need to show them lots of love because their parents are serving our country.”

Story continues below advertisement

Grade 9 student Londyn Hodgson’s dad is a door gunner in the Air Force. He’s away right now.

“It’s hard. They miss a lot of important events,” she said. “But my mom is always there to record and call him… so he’s there.”

Hodgson has been at Guthrie School for six years and said she loves it.

“There’s such a great community because nearly everybody here has gone through the same situations as me. They all have parents in the military.”

There are about 81,000 military children across Canada, according to the Edmonton Military Family Resource Centre. The centre offers programs and services to military families to support them through the unique challenges of military life, including deployments, relocations and transitions.

“Military children go through unique challenges that other children don’t go through. Their parents will go away on deployments or work-related absences, leaving them at home,” said Amber Gagnon, communications and outreach team lead.

“Connection is important because kids are relocating every two, three years normally to a new base, to a new province in Canada. They may not know anybody and they have to meet new friends and try to connect to new experiences.”

Sponsored content