But today's blog is not about ... what is.... but about ... what could be!
When I visited the exhibit in Duncan BC on 28 January I had a wonderful time looking at the exhibits. Because of poor weather conditions there were few visitors and so I was given a fantastic opportunity to speak with two of the crew and share some very interesting stories of their experience since joining the exhibit. The morning also gave me a golden opportunity to share with them the work that I have been doing for years on the research of the Canadians heroes for which this site was created. And thus, my reason to even visit the exhibit.
Then, and since I have thought of, and shared views about some ideas I have that might make the great exhibit even more meaningful to the visitor.
What follows are those thoughts.
The issue I have with the locations selected across Canada so far may have been vastly improved in some centres, had Ottawa done some more research on the very military heroes it choses to honour. Many of these recipients went to public schools somewhere in Canada. Why not do some research, get this info and see if those schools could host the event.
There is still 18 months of touring... and that is a lot of pubic schools that could get a real thrill out of hosting such a significant event.
Getting specific, Duncan's location was less than a dozen blocks from the Charles Hoey Park. This I suspect was by fluke, not any planning. Charles Hoye's name is on the cenotaph contained in that park. (as is his brother) There is also a marker commemorating his heroism in Burma in WW11 that resulted in not only a Military Cross but a Victoria Cross. He died in the process of earning his VC. In short, the very sort of hero this exhibit should be honouring.
But the crew did not know anything about this fellow until I told them about the man and even took a crew member to the park to see it for himself.
I recognize that it is impossible for the crew to know each recipient's name or story, that is not their job. It belongs with Ottawa... and for Ottawa to give the crew the tools to work with... ie a sheet of talking points most connected with the very venue in.
Image the joy and thrill the kids could get, many of the seniors children in particular, who have played in that very park and would certainly recognized its name if a crew member mentioned it. As they would speak the kids would say..."I know that name... thank you for telling me what he did."
But the opportunity is now lost. At least for that stop of the tour! It can be fixed for hundreds of others.
I have looked at the proposed stops for the exhibit briefly and do not recall seeing any of these complexes or veterans type housing projects were the exhibit may be shown. These folks have many challenges in getting around and those that are mobile would be proud and thrilled to see the exhibit at their own doorstep. Thought for consideration.
Better yet... make some sort of a portable display that can be taken into the buildings. Probably undoable this time around though.
My thought is that when one of these heroes passes on, who in the family learns of the exhibit. A major data base should be created so that the next of kin or family representatives' contact info should be gathered and stored, and used so that Ottawa now has another person that invitations could be extended to, so that they could also come out an enjoy the very exhibit their family member is honoured in.
It would take some work, but the costs would be far better spent there than on much silliness Ottawa spends on today as we all know.
One coming to mind is of course Black History Month. We are well into the month and this would have been a great time to highlight the black leaders Canada can be so proud of. The list would be very long. Let the kids do a print out of it while at the exhibit.
Another month coming to mind for personal reasons is Women's History Month conceptualized, and advocated for nationally, for over a year by three women from Victoria BC, my late mother being one of these.
That sheet could tell the brief story of the Famous Five, the subsequent creation of the Persons Awards and the still later creation of the month honouring Canadian women. What better example of leadership and inspiration could you ask for, to motivate the young children?
The exhibit is designed to motivate the youth. Here's a story they could have used... and still can. My mother often spoke about the month she and the two others created and her message was always rather profound. It was that it just goes to show what three people sitting around the kitchen table can do when they make their minds up to do it... regardless of the obstacles along the way. And they did it... despite some very serious doubts from many very powerful public figures.
My idea was for this exhibit to place some sort of large pieces of plexiglass on the sides of the van when in a fixed position at a stop. Then allow the kids to go out and sign their names to it.
As it becomes full, pull it down and put a new one up... and then make these a permanent exhibit at Ottawa after the tour is finally completed.
What a great and lasting exhibit that would be!
He ranks with the best of the best of them and his name is NOT LISTED in the data bank at the interpretive display in the exhibit.
I find this absolutely astonishing! And if I may... unacceptable.
While the criteria for the listing of those listed is unknown, and the question posed about this yet to be answered by Ottawa, a Canadian born VC recipient... for whatever reason excluded, should be put back into that data base for all Canadians to see.. for ever. Period.
And so should any other VC recipient with any connections whatsoever to Canada.
Telling the story of the Victoria Cross without telling of ALL these folks is like getting your potatoes without the gravy. In fact a whole lot more serious.
And surely that has to be just plain wrong and a disservice to their memory!
See you next week.