A poignant tradition that started in Edmonton in 2011 took place in even more Canadian cities this year. No Stone Left Alone held remembrance ceremonies in more than 50 communities in its goal to place a poppy on the headstone of every Canadian who has served in the country’s armed forces.
“You want to make sure that people remember that what happened, happened,” Guerman Valchkou,a Grade 9 student at from Edmonton’s Riverbend Junior High School, said on Monday.
The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation held remembrance ceremonies in 25 cities in 2016. The ceremonies took place in 111 cemeteries from coast to coast, including more than 7,000 students placing poppies on the headstones of more than 44,000 armed forces members.
Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, whose parents served for Canada in the Second World War, started the No Stone Left Alone movement in 2011. Since then, the tradition has expanded beyond anything those behind the ceremony thought possible.
“Each and every year brings something more beautiful, a little bit bigger, a little bit wider spread,” Bianchini-Purvis said. “So, I love all that.
“It’s emotional every year.”
WATCH: Randall Purvis, whose wife founded No Stone Left Alone, shared details about the annual ceremony on Global News Morning Edmonton.
For the first time this year, the tradition went overseas to Poland. A ceremony in Krakow in September paid tribute to the allied soldiers who did not return home to Canada and are buried in the Krakow Rakowicki Cemetery.
Watch below: Just days before Remembrance Day, hundreds of students in Edmonton came together at a cemetary to lay a poppy for No Stone Left Alone. Vinesh Pratap reports on the growth of the initiative.
This year’s ceremony from Edmonton’s Beechmount Cemetery, where the tradition began, took place on Monday, Nov. 6.
“Well, it’s a lot more kind of surreal to be in front of the graves of people who have died for your country than to just be in a classroom and learning from it in a book,” Grade 9 student Ryan Jaworsky said on Monday.
“Make sure that they’re remembered,” Jaworsky added.
For organizers, that’s the whole point, and for those who are living and learning, they have their own lesson to pass along.
“Don’t forget that this happened and that education is how you can prevent this from happening again,” Valchkou said.
-With files from Vinesh Pratap
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