Project will preserve stories from war Veterans and families
CANADIAN SOLDIER, AFGHANISTAN | George Metcalf Archival Collection | Canadian War Museum | © Stephen Thorne (2004), The Canadian Press
OTTAWA, ON, 4 august 2022 – The Royal Canadian Legion looks forward to the ultimate completion of a major new artistic and historic project by The Canadian War Museum. “In Their Own Voices: Stories from Canadian Veterans and their Families” will document detailed memories and the post-war experiences of Canadian Veterans and their families.
The Legion and the Legion National Foundation are proud to individually support this ambitious and meaningful project.
“Once complete, it will not only help promote the Remembrance of our Veterans and their experiences, it will become a lasting chronicle of Canadian Veteran history for current and future generations,” says Bruce Julian, Dominion President.
The Canadian War Museum’s four-year project will create a multi-media online platform that captures and preserves the first-hand war and post-war experiences of soldiers from all eras. It will launch in 2024 and will be available for Remembrance Day and for the 80th anniversary of V-E Day in 2025.
As Canada’s national museum of military history, The Canadian War Museum is the ideal creator and content curator of information that provides a better understanding of the effects of conflict and service across families and generations.
Dr. Michael Petrou, Historian, Veterans Experience at the museum says they are “enormously grateful” for the Legion’s support to help enable this work. He plans to speak with hundreds of Veterans.
“The war doesn’t end in the minds of a lot of people who take part,” says Petrou. He describes how war continues to shape lives in both good and harmful ways. “What we really want to do is explore those ripples that continue in Veterans’ lives sometimes even decades after they take their uniforms off,” he describes. “The oral history is really the only way to do that.”
He is starting to see themes – like the significance of the camaraderie and bonds developed among those who have served, and how many Veterans miss those things. He is also learning more about how the war experience shapes Canada as a society. It’s a rich topic to explore Petrou explains. For example he says, “women had been involved in new roles during the Second World War and it changed their role in society.”
The final compilation of audio, video and still images will serve as a valuable resource for historians, journalists, photographers, and the public. The eventual online portal will also help educators and students. As a guardian of Remembrance, the Legion is eagerly anticipating the educational possibilities.
“What better way to keep these stories alive so that we can teach our children,” says Freeman Chute, Director, Poppy and Remembrance at the Legion’s national headquarters. “We are planning to incorporate some of these educational elements into our new Remembrance tools which we have created and updated over the years to assist our teachers,” he says.
The timing of this project is especially paramount since The Canadian War Museum indicates that out of the 1.1 million people who contributed, there are only 22,000 surviving Second World War Veterans.
Michael Petrou says it is also crucial that military families’ experiences be preserved. He is hearing stories from family members who are often directly affected in ways that no-one asks about. From children signing up to serve because their parent did, to experiencing years of trauma because of a loved one’s war experience. “I think that’s almost a bit of a hidden history that we’re hoping to reveal,” he says.
Canada’s most recent census reported that 33,420 Canadian Veterans were aged eighty-five or older, underscoring the importance of including as many Canadian Veterans from early conflicts, as soon as possible.
Part of the Legion’s mission is to promote Remembrance, and this project is an integral part of fulfilling that pledge. The organization has committed $100,000, along with $25,000 from the Legion National Foundation to help support this major undertaking by The Canadian War Museum.
Learn more about the project and some of the initial stories here.
About The Royal Canadian Legion
Founded in 1925, the Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. We are a non-profit organization with a national reach across Canada as well as branches in the U.S. and Europe. With 250,000 members, many of whom volunteer an extraordinary amount of time to their branches, our strength is in our numbers.
Public Relations / Media Inquiries: PublicRelations@Legion.ca/ 343-540-7604 - Nujma Bond