Dozens of ceremonies took place across Canada on Monday, as part of an annual tradition that aims to ensure those who have served in the country’s military are not forgotten.
No Stone Left Alone is holding more than 100 remembrance ceremonies in more than 68 Canadian communities leading up to Remembrance Day, getting closer to its goal to have a student place a poppy on the headstone of every Canadian who has served in the country’s armed forces.
Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, whose parents served for Canada in the Second World War, started the No Stone Left Alone movement eight years ago. The first ceremony was held at Edmonton’s Beechmount cemetery.
Since then, the tradition has expanded beyond anything those behind the first ceremony thought possible. For the past three years, the event has reached an international level, with No Stone Left Alone ceremonies held in Krakow, Poland.
Dr. Eva Olsson spoke at Monday’s ceremony in Edmonton. The 95-year-old Holocaust survivor shared a story of her time in a concentration camp.
“Mountains of dead bodies as high as the eye could see. Very sick with typhoid fever,” Olsson said.
“Six days before the allies came in, the Gestapo had given orders for zero supplies. And what did we get to eat there? Next to zero. They wanted to speed up our death because the allies were nearby. How do you survive this? By not to give up hope.”
Hundreds of elementary and junior high students also took part in the ceremony.
Each of the students was paired with a fallen soldier, learning about their background and how they died before placing a poppy on their headstone.
Olsson said it is important for young students to be present at ceremonies like this to learn more about what causes war; she believes hate has a lot to do with it. Olsson said it’s important to stop hate in our society.
“When I travel across this country, I speak for all children — children whose voices are silenced by hate. They cannot speak for themselves,” she said. “I ask of you, for those present here today, to make a commitment to treat each other with kindness, respect and eliminate the word hate.”
Watch below: The 2019 No Stone Left Alone ceremony in its entirety
The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation held remembrance ceremonies in 105 cemeteries from coast to coast in 2018, with more than 9,000 students placing poppies on the headstones of nearly 59,000 armed forces members.
Tune in to Global television on Nov. 11 for a special half-hour presentation looking at the impact No Stone Left Alone has on people and communities across the country. The special airs at 11 a.m. in the Maritimes, 10 a.m. in Ontario, Manitoba, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and 11:30 a.m. in Alberta.
Visit the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation website to learn more about the movement.