Canadian Armed Forces personnel and civilians will gather this evening to honour those who have died in peace-support operations.
The commemoration is being organized by the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association and Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt for National Peacekeeping Day.
Aug. 9 marks the largest single-day loss of Canadian lives during peace operations, when nine Canadian Forces members perished when their Buffalo aircraft was shot out of the sky over Syria in 1974.
“We are not only remembering those who have died in operations,” said Jim Macmillan-Murphy, president of the association’s B.C. chapter.
“We also remember those whose experiences are complicit in their subsequent death or whose service was cut short regardless of the cause, no matter their mission at home or abroad.”
The event starts at 7 p.m. at the cenotaph on the legislature grounds.
It will be live-streamed at facebook.com/esquimaltbase.
A small group of dignitaries will place a poppy in a wreath at the cenotaph. A single CC-115 Buffalo aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron will fly past in salute.
People planning to attend must wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines.
Those who have them are invited to wear their blue or orange beret indicative of their service.
Rainbow to keep Pender Island Pride’s spirit alive
Instead of cancelling or postponing the Pender Island Pride celebration this year, organizers pivoted and created a semi-virtual event, including live-streaming the convoy on Saturday.
This is the second year of Pride celebrations on Pender Island.
“We had great feedback from our first event last year,” said Andrew Cameron, who sits on the board of Pender Island Pride. “Despite COVID-19, we decided to keep a positive thing going.”
The parade was replaced by a Rainbow Convoy, which took a 35-kilometre extended tour across North and South Pender islands. This allowed the organization to spread the spirit of the event while allowing residents to keep their distance.
“We wanted to keep the spirit alive, while keeping the community safe,” Cameron said. “We saw a number of pockets of well-wishers along the route.”
Islanders were encouraged to show support by holding mini celebrations on their driveways or other socially distanced locations along the route.
A team of photographers and videographers, including two aerial drone operators, accompanied the convoy and live-streamed the event so that others could watch it online.
“It was a huge technological learning curve and there were hiccups along the way,” Cameron said. “It makes a big difference to us to hold the event. While we would have preferred to hold a parade, it’s all about finding a balance.”
A pet project helps families in financial difficulty
PetSmart Charities of Canada is helping keep families and their pets together during the COVID-19 crisis with a $55,000 grant to the B.C. SPCA pet food-bank outreach program.
The funds will enable the B.C. SPCA to expand its COVID-19 outreach response for at-risk and financially insecure individuals.
The number of pet guardians needing help has skyrocketed during the pandemic, with individuals affected by job loss and other financial stresses.
“The B.C. SPCA has always operated pet food banks for individuals who may need a little extra help to keep their animals fed and healthy,” said Marcie Moriarty, chief prevention and enforcement officer with the society.
The group has expanded the number of food-bank programs across the province in response to the pandemic, she said. Since the pandemic began, the B.C. SPCA has distributed almost 21,500 kilograms of dry dog food, close to 7,000 kilograms of dry cat food, 6,000 cans of dog food, 14,000 cans of cat food, as well as more than 3,500 kilograms of cat litter.
“Sadly, we were seeing cases where people felt they had no option but to surrender a beloved pet to the SPCA because they were struggling financially,” Moriarty said.
“We wanted to do everything in our power to support these people so that they would not have to make such an agonizing choice. Our goal is to keep families and their pets together.”
Another pet project is raising funds for Flirting with Fido
Help raise funds for Flirting with Fido next weekend at the Burnside Road Bosley’s by Pet Valu store.
The animal-rescue organization has recently accepted several stray dogs from remote northern communities in Saskatchewan and is in need of donations to support its work.
The fundraiser will run from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 16 at the Bosley’s store at 491 East Burnside Rd.
The event will include a bottle drive, barbecue, car wash and nail trim (for animals) by donation.
• If you wish to donate directly to Flirting with Fido, you can do so on their Facebook page at facebook.com/flirtingwithfido.
Broadmead Care Society campaigns for veterans, seniors
The Broadmead Care Society is hosting a bottle drive to support veterans and seniors on Saturday at the Veterans Memorial Lodge at Broadmead.
All refundable beverage containers accepted at the no-touch drop-off event.
Put containers in a box or bag that you don’t want returned. Items should be sorted so that glass is separate from containers made of other materials.
The event runs 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 15 at the lodge, 4579 Chatterton Way.
• For more information, go to broadmeadcare.com/bring-us-your-empties.
Monument to mark last Canadian to get the Victoria Cross
Tax deductible donations are being accepted for a monument to commemorate the 75th year since the last Canadian was awarded the Victoria Cross.
Lt. Robert Hampton (Hammy) Gray was killed on Aug. 9, 1945, when he pressed home an attack on the Japanese destroyer Amakusa in Onagawa Bay, Japan.
His Victoria Cross not only recognizes his valour — it is said to symbolically recognize the accomplishments of all Canadians killed while serving in the Royal Navy carrier fleet.
A monument to his memory was to be have been unveiled at the B.C. Aviation Museum in North Saanich today, but the pandemic restrictions have not only delayed the ceremony, but has also affected the manufacture and placement of the memorial.
An artist is putting the final touches to three panels in honour of Gray.
“A new date will be determined when the pandemic restrictions allow,” said retired navy captain Terry Milne, the project lead.
• Tax deductible donations can be sent to the Naval Association of Canada Endowment Fund, Box 42025, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6T4. Please mark cheques with the memo Lt. Gray Fund. You can also donate online at canadahelps.org (search Naval Association).