Kitchener-Waterloo

Remembrance Torch project marks 75th anniversary of Dutch liberation

Karen Hunter had plans to go to the Netherlands to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dutch liberation during the Second World War. But COVID-19 forced her to cancel those plans and instead she launched Canadian Remembrance Torch and Faces to Names in Guelph.

Karen Hunter hopes Canadian Remembrance Torch inspires people to reflect on lives lost

Karen Hunter had plans to go to the Netherlands in April and May 2020 with over 100 other Canadians to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the country's liberation, but COVID-19 forced her to cancel those plans. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

Karen Hunter had plans to go to the Netherlands earlier this year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dutch liberation during the Second World War, but COVID-19 forced her to cancel those plans.

But she still wanted to mark the significant anniversary. She's now launched the Canadian Remembrance Torch to continue to honour her father's legacy and the legacy of other veterans.

The trip to the Netherlands was originally part of her In Our Father's Footsteps project, where she and more than 100 Canadians were set to retrace the footsteps of Canadian troops in the Netherlands during the Second World War.

Karen Hunter launched the Canadian Remembrance Torch and Faces to Names to continue to honour veterans this year. (R.A. Enterprise)

"Every day is Remembrance Day and so I created the Canadian Remembrance Torch in an effort to do that," she told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo. 

She said the Canadian Remembrance Torch will run different events including one that has been running since July called The Torch Be Yours.

The event asks Canadians to take a photograph of themselves holding a personal remembrance torch to honour veterans.

Hunter said a special tribute video will be launched next week showcasing all the photographs they receive.

She says she hopes the project inspires people to think about Remembrance Day differently.

"Another objective of the torch is to express the other side of Remembrance Day, including those reflections and celebrations of life and celebrations of a veteran's legacy," she said.

Hunter said she learned a lot about her own father, who was a Second World War veteran, during the creation of the In Our Father's Footsteps project. Dozens of other people reached out to share their family's story as well.

"Over the course of two years of planning I met so many people. People who were young children in the Netherlands during the war and what that was like or people who had lost their fathers to the war," she said.

"And from the veterans themselves, I learned so much from their stories."

Honouring 28 soldiers from Guelph

Hunter said she also learned about Guelph's history through another project called Faces to Names. This project honours 28 soldiers from Guelph who served during the Dutch Liberation.

"I like to think of the cenotaph as a large book that is open at the pages and lists people who are in its various chapters and Faces to Names tells their stories so they won't be forgotten," Hunter said.

Portraits of the soldiers are on display in front of the Wall of Honour at the Guelph Cenotaph, Hunter explains.

There people can scan a code on the display and access the soldier's biography and a short video created by the soldier's relatives. 

People can also view a street map that shows where the soldiers used to live, as well as view street names that were named after them, Hunter said.

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