ASSINIBOIA – The last Remembrance Day ceremony Darla Prefontaine attended shocked her.
A total of 35 people gathered around a cenotaph, acknowledging those who paid the ultimate price. Not to discount the efforts by those nearly three dozen people, but it was a sign to Prefontaine that more is required to truly honour local veterans.
Hence the Soldiers on Centre project was born.
“The project is about honouring the veterans that served for the country and bringing awareness to the youth about what sacrifices were actually made,” she told SASKTODAY.ca.
Inspired by a similar project in The Battlefords back in 2017, Prefontaine wanted to bring the idea of installing banners home to share with Assiniboia.
“There will be 55 banners in total,” she explained, and several have already been installed. “Each banner is double sided and there's a different veteran on each side.”
The plan is to have the banners raised every September and have them displayed until the end of November each year.
Response to the project has been very positive, with Prefontaine extending the deadline for banner availability. Each one costs $250 and all people need to provide is a photo of their loved one and some information about their background in service. All money above production cost goes back to the local Legion.
The history component has been very interesting for Prefontaine.
“They’re all a little bit different - some people had no information at all beside just the name, some people sent me three pages of stories and information,” she said. In fact, some people have even shared historical documents like discharge papers.
“It’s just incredible,” said Prefontaine. “I had way more information from a lot of people than I needed from the banners, so I started a Facebook page (Soldiers on Centre - Assiniboia Royal Canadian Legion). Any information that was brought to me, I put it on the Facebook page.”
Searching through the many posts provides another level of history and remembrance - one lasting all year round.
A ribbon cutting ceremony for Soldiers on Centre will be held on Sept. 23 at 1 p.m. in front of the cenotaph at Town Hall, with everyone invited to attend.
“We’ll be reading the names of all the veterans and there's a few short speeches,” Prefontaine explained. “Just something to kick off the season.”
She was quick to credit those who helped with the project, especially the Town of Assiniboia and Able II Print for all the extra hours involved.
“It’s been probably one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my life!” Prefontaine said.
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