Edmonton's No Stone Left Alone honours Canada's fallen in Poland
The campaign was founded in Edmonton in 2011
For the first time this Friday, schoolchildren in Poland will lay poppies on the graves of Canadian soldiers who never returned home from the Second World War.
The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation, an Edmonton-based charity, has expanded its campaign to include a cemetery in Kraków, Poland, where 15 Canadian soldiers are interred.
"There are 15 Canadian soldiers, World War II heroes, buried at the Rakowiecki cemetery," said Randall Purvis, chairman of the No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation.
Purvis and his wife, Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, founded the non-profit organization in 2011 with the mission of ensuring those who gave their lives in battle are never forgotten.
Bianchini-Purvis, the daughter of two Second World War veterans, promised her dying mother more than 30 years ago that she would not be forgotten on Remembrance Day.
Every November from then on, Bianchini-Purvis would return to the Field of Honour in Beechmount Cemetery to lay a poppy, first alone, then later joined by her daughters.
The family was continuing the tradition when their daughter noticed that many veterans' headstones sat neglected.
The campaign started in Beechmount Cemetery on 104th Street and has grown into a national movement, working with the military, volunteer committees, students and educators.
More than 6,700 students and 9,000 volunteers were involved in last year's memorial ceremonies.
'It's going to be a legacy'
The local school in Kraków is joining the campaign and, every Sept. 1. will commemorate the Canadian soldiers at the cemetery with a traditional poppy ceremony.
On Friday, 250 students, 300 soldiers and local dignitaries will gather to honour the fallen soldiers and pay their respects to the Canadian Forces.
"It's quite incredible," Purvis said. "It's absolutely amazing the response we've been getting from our associates in Kraków."
The campaign has received interest from other Polish schools looking to join the campaign, said Purvis. He expects the movement will spread across the country and become a tradition for local children.
"We're very confident that we've got a wonderful network here in Poland," said Purvis.
"It's going to be a legacy."