Mrs. Gloria Hooper
Gloria Hooper lives in the small French town of St. Claude, Manitoba but was born and grew up on the family farm in Shell Valley, MB where her brother still lives.
Gloria recalls a busy early life, especially as the oldest of four children. She often stepped in when her mom was helping her dad in the field and, “I was to look after the kids,” she recalls.
After her early years of school in nearby towns such as Inglis and Russell, Gloria went to work as a telephone operator in Dauphin, MB with what was Manitoba Telecom Services at the time. She later took an interest in nursing and got her training in The
Pas, MB at Keewatin Community College. After graduating, she worked locally at St. Anthony’s General Hospital.
Married to her husband Clinton Hooper - who held a variety of roles over the years, from working with Manitoba highways to working on a pipeline - they moved to Holland, MB and bought a restaurant and hotel. The place kept them busy, and Gloria took a
break from her medical career. They later sold the business, and she went back to nursing. Retiring after a back injury, she later helped in a group home for adults with disabilities and also did some cooking for seniors. In her spare time, she enjoyed
She raised two children, Christopher (Chris) and his younger sister Ashley.
Gloria speaks about her late son Christopher Holopina with fondness in her voice and says that as a child, “it was a lot of fun with him, he was into anything, mischievous and everything.” He made toy swords, played with army toys, and as
the oldest grandchild, he spent a lot of time on the family farm. Later, he became interested in art and would draw for hours. His sister Ashley remembers him as a great artist. “He would just take a piece of paper and draw,” she says,
from knights and dragons to medieval images.
Described as a “big kid” himself, Chris was also known as a prankster, a trait Gloria was only too happy to foster. She recalls sending him some glow-in-the-dark clothing at Christmas time, and all the humour that followed among his comrades
abroad. “Anything we could do for fun, we did it!” she laughs.
Gloria is looking forward to representing mothers across Canada who have lost a child to military service. Though she recognizes that “everybody has their own feelings,” and respects that the journey is different for each Silver Cross Mother,
she would like to represent “just the feeling of having a child gone,” in a way that will help support others.
As a Silver Cross Mother, Gloria traditionally lays a wreath in Portage la Prairie during Remembrance activities and has done so for over 20 years. She also represents Silver Cross Mothers at the school in St. Claude and at other events, including laying
a wreath at the cenotaph in the town each year on Bastille Day. Her son Chris’ name is engraved on that monument.
Sapper Chris Holopina
Sapper Chris Holopina was a member of the Canadian Army and served as a Combat Engineer. With a mischievous spirit and a love of travel, his family ultimately describes him as a true “soldier,” having embodied that persona from a very young age.
Born on October 5, 1973, in Russell, Manitoba, Chris’ mother Gloria describes how her son would play with toy soldiers as a youngster. “He would sit there for hours,” she said. His sister Ashley recalls her family describing her older brother stating, “I want to join the Army, I want to join the Army when I’m older.” As a teen, it remained his goal.
After graduating from High School in Treherne, Manitoba, he followed his chosen path and joined the reserves with a friend as soon as he could, at the age of 16, later enlisting in Portage la Prairie. Chris became a member of 2 Combat Engineer Regiment (2 CER) based in Petawawa, Ontario.
Ashley recalls him regularly working out in their garage and participating in local and national ruck marches - hiking with a backpack.
Chris was killed on July 4, 1996, while on duty as part of Operation Alliance. He and his comrades were involved in a vehicle accident while on their way to help rescue a group of British soldiers stranded in a mine field. The Canadian armoured vehicle left the road to avoid an accident, but then careened down a ravine and rolled over, killing Chris. He was the first Canadian to give his life in Bosnia as part of that mission.
During his final assignment, he wanted to help children in Bosnia whom he explained had nothing, by organizing a toy and clothing drive. His family recalls the boxes of donations “everywhere” as they collected, packed, and shipped.
As a reservist, Chris had experienced two tours of duty abroad including in Cyprus from 1992-1993, and Croatia from 1993-1994. His family says he took every opportunity while on leave to travel to places like Greece and France, and once back home was always eager to head out on another tour.
After his passing, several special places of remembrance were created in his honour. The Portage la Prairie Armoury renamed their lounge the “Holopina Lounge” and dedicated a wall to him. A lake in Northern Manitoba was also named for him – presented on the day of his funeral. His engineering friends also created a special case containing memorabilia such as Chris’ hat, belt, and shoulder flashes.
Ashley says her brother would want others to know that “he wanted to serve his country, and he did his best.” Chris now rests at the Shell Valley (St. John’s) cemetery in Manitoba.
Every year, Legion Provincial Commands and individuals forward
nominations for the selection of a National Silver Cross Mother. These
nominations are reviewed by a selection committee at Dominion Command
and one mother is chosen for the year which begins on 01 November until
31 October of the following year.