Documentary on repatriation of fallen Canadian soldiers films in Edmonton

Fallen Heroes: The Journey Home by Combined Forces Productions will cover the events that took place after four Canadian soldiers were killed in a friendly fire incident at Kandahar Airfield in April of 2002.

'What we did as Canadians was really outstanding,' says film's producer

The documentary recreated Ontario's Highway of Heroes with actors on stretches of Anthony Henday Drive. (John Shypitka/CBC)

An Alberta production company is filming a documentary around Edmonton about the repatriation of Canadian soldiers who died during the Afghanistan war.

Fallen Heroes: The Journey Home by Combined Forces Productions will cover the events that took place after four Canadian soldiers were killed in a friendly fire incident at Kandahar Airfield in April of 2002.

"From that moment on, Canadians started to find a way that was really quite unique to say goodbye to their fallen comrades," said Karen Storwick, the film's producer.

"This story is about the incredible things that they did in Kandahar with the ramp ceremony, saying goodbye to fallen soldiers. And also here on the home front, how we as Canadians came out in droves with compassion to show love and support for the families of the fallen."

The Canadian ramp ceremonies held at airfields eventually became the international standard for fallen soldiers, Storwick said.

Recreated settings

Those first four Canadians killed were members of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, headquartered at Canadian Forces Base Edmonton.

Due to COVID restrictions, production needed to get creative as they couldn't film at the base..

The crew spent the weekend filming at Namao School in Sturgeon County, which stood in as the CFB Edmonton barracks.

Stepping in as a double was fitting as Namao is one of two Sturgeon public schools on the base that serve military families.

"For us, helping to tell this story is kind of near and dear to our hearts," said Karen Meurer, communications advisor for Sturgeon Public Schools.

"We understand what the families go through for the one that has to leave and then the ones that are left behind." 

Parts of Anthony Henday Drive subbed in for Ontario's Highway of Heroes, the stretch of Highway 401 from Canadian Forces Base Trenton to Toronto that marked a soldier's final journey home.

The Highway 28 overpass in Sturgeon County was transformed into the Highway of Heroes. (John Shypitka/CBC)

Crews will also film in Northlands Coliseum, the venue for an April 2002 memorial service attended by thousands, including then Prime Minister Jean Chrétien.

"What we did as Canadians was really outstanding," Storwick said.

"I think what we want to do in this film is tell this story, tell this history, but also help Canadians to remember what we did in those years and to see ourselves as supporters of veterans and veterans causes."

The film will premiere at the Garneau Theatre in April of 2022.

Once it's premiered, Storwick says it will be repackaged and used for educational purposes in Canadian schools.


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