No Stone Left Alone honours the sacrifice of Canada’s military on Remembrance Day
ABOVE: Students participating in the NSLA’s Remembrance Day ceremony
By Rusel Olson
The No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation (NSLA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honouring and remembering Canada’s veterans. Their unique ceremony provides students and youth with an authentic experience that creates knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of those who serve and of the sacrifice of Canada’s fallen.
No Stone Left Alone was launched in 2011 by Mrs. Maureen G. Bianchini-Purvis in recognition of the sacrifice of the Canadian men and women who have lost their lives in the service of peace, at home and abroad. It became her mission to see that one day all of the soldiers' headstones would have a poppy placed in their honour and the cemetery would resemble the idea of Flanders Fields where the poppies grow "row on row." The idea of providing students with a genuine experience related to leadership, responsibility, respect, gratitude, and citizenship all across Canada and to have them participate in developing a moving, hands-on Remembrance Day ceremony proved meritorious.
The NSLA goal remains one of engaging today’s youth by providing a learning and reflective environment of remembering and respecting our fallen military veterans and honouring our soldiers. Following the preparation and educational learning exercises, dignitaries, serving military, legionnaires, veterans, and volunteer community members all work together side by side with students throughout the event to honour the fallen.
Students participate by placing poppies on each and every soldier’s headstone in the cemeteries all around Canada which take place annually during Veteran’s Week. The NSLA program has grown each year since 2011. In 2019, 12,297 students from 127 schools placed 64,503 poppies in 121 cemeteries in every province and territory.
After the ceremonies, students reflect on how their experience has impacted them and strengthened their understanding and importance of Remembrance Day and those who served.
No Stone Left Alone Ceremonies 2020
For 2020, No Stone Left Alone ceremonies will look different than in previous years. But we remain undeterred in our commitment to remember Canada’s veterans.
NSLA Commemorations will take place across Canada this November. But to ensure the health and safety of all involved due to the coronavirus, in most cases the ceremonies will not be open to the public. And sadly, with only a few exceptions, NSLA students will not be able to visit the headstones together to lay poppies. They will instead participate from their classrooms in various ways; making a wreath to be laid by volunteers in their cemetery, participating in a virtual discussion with a veteran via video conferencing, or creating a “Remembrance Wall” where they lay poppies in honour of their community’s veterans.
In a statement the NSLA says: We are saddened that we can not come together in our communities in the same way this year, but we can come together in other ways.On this, the 10th anniversary of No Stone Left Alone, we invite you to join us by watching the live stream presentation of our remembrance ceremony at Beechmount Cemetery in Edmonton – the birthplace of NSLA. It will be presented live at globalnews.ca, as well as on this website and the No Stone Left Alone facebook page.
Header photo: Cross-Keys Media, Unsplash