CALGARY – Many Canadians will spend November 11th remembering soldiers — family members, friends, unknown heroes — who served our country. Allan Cameron, meanwhile, has dedicated his life to the task.
He is the executive director and founder of Veterans Voices of Canada. Since 2006, Cameron has met with over 1000 Canadian veterans, interviewing them on camera for history, education and the benefit of veterans’ families.
The initiative has documented the stories of veterans from almost every conflict where Canada has served in recent history. As the World War Two veteran population ages, however, Canada is quickly losing the ability to access first-hand accounts of the historic battles.
“It’s an honour and a privilege to listen to the stories that I’m hearing, because in another ten years from now we’re going to be down to very few, if any, World War Two veterans,” said Cameron.
One of the Cameron’s interviewees was Rudy Deutsch, a medic who served on 40 battle lines in North Africa and Italy during the Second World War. He died two weeks ago.
Cameron said after spending six or seven hours interviewing people like Deutsch, they often become close friends.
“It’s like losing a family member,” said Cameron. “I would visit him often. He was an arm wrestler. He was the oldest champion arm wrestler and held a Guinness World Record for that. So I would go to visit him and he be wanting to arm wrestle me – couldn’t leave his house without an arm wrestle.”
Last year Cameron began a new country-wide initiative called “Flags of Remembrance.” Groups of 128 full-sized Canadian flags now line several highways across the country.
Sylvan Lake, where Cameron lives, was one of the first communities to erect the tribute – which honours 128,000 Canadians killed or missing in action since the Boer War.
“I thought it was an important that there was a visual representation there so that people think about it, not just on Remembrance Day.”
Next year, 20 to 25 communities are expected to take part.
Cameron said he was encouraged that a Calgarian, new MP Kent Hehr, was selected as the Veterans Affairs Minister. He hopes to travel to Calgary to have a chat with Hehr in the near future.