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When I was in grade 7, I watched a documentary with my father on the 2nd World War. Some of the images were very disturbing to me, and I was extremely upset while watching it. My father suggested that he should turn off the T.V, but I said, “No. I need to watch this.” It was that documentary that first made me truly understand what the horrors of war could look like, but it also made me appreciate fully the immense sacrifices that are made during war. Since then, Remembrance Day has always meant a great deal to me and no matter where I am I always make sure I attend a service and reflect on those sacrifices. I have always wanted to attend the Remembrance Day service in Ottawa at the National War Memorial. Despite having grown up just down the road in Montreal, that has never happened – until now.
About a year ago, I wrote to Eric Coates and told him of my deep desire to share Jake’s Gift in Ottawa over Remembrance Day, and of attending the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial. The melding of those two dreams had always been in the back of my mind as a goal to achieve, but I wasn’t sure it would ever happen. Thankfully, Eric jumped on board with the idea, took a chance on our little show, and invited us to be part of GCTC’s 2015/16 Season over the Remembrance Day time slot. I cried with gratitude and the realization that those dreams were actually going to come true.
On October 22, 2014, we had just arrived in Banff in prep for an Oct 23rd performance at the Banff Legion when Corporal Cirillo was shot at the National War Memorial. It was such a heartbreaking time for our country, and for it to happen on such sacred ground was incomprehensible. In the days and weeks that followed, and as we continued on our Fall tour, Corporal Nathan Cirillo as well as Warrant Office Patrice Vincent were very much in our hearts and minds, and they continue to be one year on. Last Tuesday, we drove past the National War Memorial on our way to load in at the theatre. It was impossible to see the memorial and not think of that tragic day.
We cannot fully express how much it means to us to share this story of remembrance in our Nation’s capital where so many veterans and members of our armed forces live. Our first week here in Ottawa has been fabulous, and the company of artists at GCTC have welcomed us with open arms. Getting to attend the National Remembrance Day ceremony, and to lay our poppies on the tomb of the unknown soldier and then head to GCTC to share Jake’s Gift with the community is pretty much a perfect day in our minds. We are so grateful, and want to give a big thank you to everyone at GCTC for making our dream come true.