Sunday, July 31, 2011

Portraits of Honour ~ Dave Sopha ~ Kin-Canada ~ Kamloops, BC

There was a time that the fallen soldiers that we would hear about would be from days gone by.  They'd fought in World Wars I and II and other wars of history.  That is not the case today.  Now some of us have our kids going off to war in foreign lands and fighting for others to have the freedom we've enjoyed all our lives.  This is not how we'd like their story to unfold but unfortunately, for many, these loved ones will not return alive.

The Portraits of Honour tour comes to Kamloops, BC
This is an amazing tribute that is travelling across Canada, organized by Kin-Canada and brought to Kamloops with the help of the Kamloops K-40 club.  Donations are being taken to share between the Erin Doyle Memorial Bursery at Thompson Rivers University and the national fund that will help other Canadian soldiers recover from combat.

Faces of fallen Canadian soldiers
When he read that 100 Canadian soldiers had died in the war in Afghanistan, artist Dave Sopha of Ontario decided he wished to pay tribute to them all and began painting. This talented artist has spent thousands of hours on the Portaits of Honour and gives each soldier a face for us to remember.
The canvas is 10' x 50' (approx. 3x15 metres) and now has 155 faces painted with 2 more to be done when the mural returns home. The background of the mural has 110,000 poppies, one for every Canadian soldier who has died in combat.

Master Cpl. Erin Doyle of Kamloops, BC
Master Cpl. Erin Doyle, who grew up in Kamloops, is on this mural. His painting is on the bottom row, third from the right. He was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2008 on his third tour of duty. He was being honored today along with the others, for his brave contributions that he made in Afghanistan.
Peace symbol on the Portrait of Honor
Dave Sopha includes the dove, a symbol of peace with poppies that help us remember the fallen Canadian soldiers of war.  His portraits have most soldiers looking right at us which seems to offer a personal connection with them, I found the mural to be a very moving piece of art as well as a Portraits of Honour.

Senator Nancy Greene-Raine and Artist Dave Sopha 
Artist Dave Sopha spoke to the gathering at the Riverside Bandshell, telling how he felt compelled to paint this mural and honor these soldiers.  Here he chats with Kamloops Senator Nancy Greene-Raine, also a speaker at the ceremony who spoke from the heart when she talked about the importance of each and every one of those faces painted on the Portraits of Honour.

Quilt made for each fallen soldier
There is a very special lady in Red Deer, AB who makes quilts for the spouse, the parents and the grandparents of every soldier killed in Afghanistan.  Mrs. Mitchell, Erin Doyle's mother and some of his family attended the Portraits of Honour ceremony and she kindly brought her quilt for all to see.

Soldiers of the past pay respect
The ceremony began with the Kamloops Pipe Band leading the representatives from the Anavets and Royal Canadian Legion who carried the flags. The occassion was solemn but it celebrated the soldiers who fight for peace in the world.

Soldiers of today
Several uniforms and RCMP were there and dressed for the ceremony, and gathered in front of the Portraits of Honour, which made for a great photo opportunity. I understood that the three in front had been to Afghanistan, one had given an impressive speech during the ceremony.

Monument in Riverside Park, Kamloops, BC
As I walked away after the ceremony had ended, I had to pass this monument that stands in Riverside Park. Not sure what it was for, I stopped to read it and how ironic this was. This monument stands here to remind us of those that have fought and died in the war and we must never forget.

                                                     "WE WILL REMEMBER THEM"

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