A Longview artist’s endeavour to uphold remembrance of the Great War is reaching beyond Canada.
Proceeds from 250 limited edition prints of Deanna Lavoie’s Journey to Remember painting that’s been on display at the Jubilee Auditorium in Calgary for a year are helping to fund a battlefield tour for a dozen cadets from Calgary and area this coming spring.
The six-by-five-foot acrylic painting commemorating the First World War shows soldiers walking into the sunset in a field of poppies.
“I knew that after I commissioned these prints I just had to do something to give back in some way,” said Lavoie. “With my own journey to remembrance I knew that the education factor came at a later age. I thought if I can do something, maybe the education factor is what I need to be looking at.”
Lavoie was invited to last year’s Poppy Campaign Fund kickoff ceremony in Calgary where she met Barry Ashton, co-chair of the Route to Victory Centennial Battlefield Tour.
After learning that he was planning to raise more than $50,000 to send a dozen cadets and two chaperones on the battlefield tour from March 23 to April 1, Lavoie decided to donate $50 from the sale of each print to the trip. She’s sold prints around the world including Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada.
“I feel as though not only am I able to do something, but so are the people who are purchasing,” she said. “They are sending these youth on their own journey to remember.”
Lavoie and her family took similar tours, having just returned from Passchendaele.
“Over the past three years we’ve been taking our own kids on this trip in respect to my husband’s grandfather and the people that were there at that time,” she said. “When we came home, we had the safety and security of our own home. At that time some didn’t know if they were going to come home or not.”
Leading Seaman Kayden Milford, 15, with the Okotoks Sea Cadets, said he’s excited to embark on the tour in four months.
“I can’t wait,” he said. “I’ve never been outside of North America before and I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and anywhere in France.”
Milford said it’s generous of Lavoie to donate proceeds from her prints so he can pay tribute.
“It’s pretty important because our soldiers fought for our freedom,” he said.
Ashton said cadets in 22 organizations in Calgary and area had submitted an essay about a Canadian soldier and an application form last spring with hopes to be selected to attend the battlefield tour. Those selected had to have a good performance review in their cadet corp. and attend at least one summer camp.
The Route to Victory tour will take the cadets to various places pertinent to the First World War including Amsterdam to visit Anne Frank’s house and the holocaust museum, Passchendaele battlefield, monuments and cemeteries, Menin Gate, Vimy Ridge, the Hill 70 monument, beaches at Normandy and underground tunnels and trench lines.
“We are commemorating the three great victories of 1917 — Vimy Ridge, Hill 70 and Passchendaele,” he said. “That will be quite an emotional experience for them.”
Ashton said money was also raised at last month’s Victories Centennial Gala to cover the cost of the trip.
He said he’s also grateful for Lavoie’s contribution.
“I think it was tremendous,” he said. “I appreciate her commitment to supporting our youth and learning a bit about our military heritage.”
The Okotoks Sea Cadets require eight more cadets to keep the organization going beyond 2017. Anyone interested in joining the squadron or who wants more information can call Linda Wellwood at 403-851-5127.