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FEDERAL MINISTER OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ATTENDS JOHN PAUL I JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL REMEMBRANCE DAY CEREMONY

Repercussion Theatre

MONTREAL, NOVEMBER  12,  2010 – Heroes, both past and present, were honoured at John Paul I Junior High School in St. Léonard last week with a special Remembrance Day ceremony featuring international war veterans,  as well as Federal Minister of Veterans Affairs Jean Pierre Blackburn.

In attendance for the ceremony was a multi-national contingent of veterans. Along with Minister Blackburn, representing Canada was Navy Lieutenant Commander Jeff Biddiscombe, Royal Canadian Legion District Commander Patricia Crichton, Royal Canadian Navy Volunteer Reserve Commander Marcel Belanger, and World War II veterans Colonel Bernard James Finestone, Norman Silver, Romeo Del Vecchio, Philip Scott, James Whitehall, Raymond Olivier, Fernand Trepanie and Alexandre Chartrand.

Joining the Canadian veterans was World War II British veteran Alex Hall, World War II French veteran Ulysse Correia and World War II Italian veteran Giovanni Simone.

The honoured guests joined Regional Director Marzia Michielli, EMSB Spiritual, Religious and Moral Education Consultant Irene Miller, Principal Liboria Amato, Vice-Principal Martin Marci, flag bearers RCMP Officer Emeranda and Air Force Cadet and John Paul I student Tedario Speranza, as well as students, staff and administrators to pay tribute to the brave and courageous Canadian men and women who have fought and continue to defend Canada and the free world.  

Along with a period of silence, five wreaths were laid by veterans, guests and current students in front of a wooden replica of the “Victory V and torch.”.The replica was crafted in a joint project by John Paul I  Junior High School and Mountainview  Alternative High School in Côte Saint- Luc.

“We remembered those who sacrificed their lives in order to bring acceptance, unity, peace and the freedom to our united world,” said Rocco Speranza, School Spiritual Care Community Involvement and Guidance Animator. “Today we proudly and humbly gather to honour those brave men and women who returned and to those who never did.”

Minister Blackburn proudly stated that Canada is a world leader in honoring its veterans, noting that as a nation, Canada marks November 5 to 12 as Veteran’s Week. He encouraged the younger generations to actively seek ways to connect to Canadians serving throughout the world, some of whom are only a handful of years older than them. Social media is one tool in which the Ministry of Veterans Affairs is using in order to build such a connection as the Minister pointed students to the “Canada Remembers” Facebook page,  where they would join nearly 430,000 individuals who can send messages to Canadian troops overseas.

In order to foster more ideas, Minister Blackburn led students in a special youth forum following the ceremony. It was through this platform where Maya Gaspari suggested her school release red balloons on Remembrance Day as an additional way to highlight the admiration Canadians have for their armed forces. Principal Liboria Amato took note of her pupil’s suggestion and one day later, on November 11, 300 red balloons were released  into the sky  immediately after the two minutes of silence.

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Michael J. Cohen
Communications and Marketing Specialist
English Montreal School Board
Tel: (514) 483-7200 ext. 7243
Fax: (514) 483-7213
E-mail: mcohen@emsb.qc.ca