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Founder of No Stone Left Alone receives prestigious Governor General award

Annual No Stone Left Alone ceremony in Edmonton, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014. Global News

Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, founder of No Stone Left Alone, is one of the 98 Canadians to have been awarded Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division).

The office of the Governor General describes the honour as “among the highest Canadian distinctions that can be awarded.”

Read more: No Stone Left Alone honours Canada’s fallen

What started out as a passion project for Edmontonian Bianchini-Purvis grew into a nation-wide effort to ensure every fallen soldier is remembered with a poppy. No Stone Left Alone marked its 10th year this past November.

Bianchini-Purvis was chosen for the Meritorious Service Cross for creating No Stone Left Alone, “a project that engages school children in honouring the sacrifices of Canada’s veterans by placing poppies on headstones each November,” the Governor General’s office stated in a news release.

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The Meritorious Service Decorations “recognize individuals who have performed a deed or an activity in a highly professional manner, or at a very high standard that brings benefit or honour to Canada. Such actions can range from advocacy initiatives and health care services to humanitarian efforts and contributions to the arts.

“Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to extraordinary and unprecedented times, and many Canadians rose to the challenge to support and help others.”

Click to play video: 'No Stone Left Alone marks 10 years of honouring Canada’s fallen soldiers' No Stone Left Alone marks 10 years of honouring Canada’s fallen soldiers
No Stone Left Alone marks 10 years of honouring Canada’s fallen soldiers – Nov 5, 2020

Global News is proud to partner with the No Stone Left Alone Foundation that serves to honour the sacrifice and service of Canada’s military by educating students and placing poppies on the headstones of veterans every November.

NSLA Commemorations take place across Canada.

Bianchini-Purvis is the daughter of two Second World War veterans. She promised her dying mother that she would not be forgotten on Remembrance Day. Year after year, she visited her mother’s grave at Beechmount Cemetery in Edmonton, laying a poppy in remembrance, and continuing the tradition with her own children.

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When her daughters noticed the many graves in the Field of Honour that lay bare, the idea for No Stone Left Alone was born.

Read more: No Stone Left Alone remembrance ceremonies

“I remember being a young child and standing at my grandmother’s headstone and since it’s on the other side of the cemetery, you look out at this vast grouping of hundreds and hundreds of headstones and I said:

“‘Mom, why is it just us? Why is it only our grandparents that have a poppy? Don’t all these souls deserve to be recognized?’” Keely Yates said.

“I think it was profound for a 10-year-old to say. And she decided to run with it. And now, look where we are 10 years later.”

Today, the non-profit organization works with the military, volunteer committees, students and Alberta educators.

Students, typically in junior high, place the poppies, and learn about the sacrifices made by Canada’s veterans, and those who still serve today.

Since the first ceremony in 2011, the concept spread across Edmonton, then across Alberta, and now across the country.

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