A mural that aims to honour Canadian troops who have lost their lives in Afghanistan is making a stop in the South Okanagan July 26 when local event organizers are hoping to raise funds for military families.
The Portraits of Honour mural features the faces of 156 Canadian soldiers, sailors and aircrew who have died in Afghanistan, including Captain Jon Snyder of Penticton who fell in Afghanistan, June 7, 2008.
As of this writing, 157 soldiers have died in Afghanistan since 2002.
Four Canadian civilians have also been killed, including one diplomat, one journalist and two aid workers.
Synder and the others gave their lives as part of multi-pronged international military and development mission designed to develop that country by defeating radical Islamist forces, who had aided Osama Bin Laden in staging the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
The mural arrives in Penticton with support from the Kin Canada Foundation and Kin Canada.
Its outgoing deputy director for the southern Interior of British Columbia Frederik Numsen said the mural aims to recognize the contributions of the fallen soldiers who have paid what he calls the “ultimate price” and support their families.
“I hope that our region will come out in large numbers to remember, honour and celebrate our Canadian forces,” he said.
Current plans call for the mural to arrive in Penticton on July 26 with a public viewing scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. in Gyro Park located in the 100-block of Main Street.
Viewing of the mural will be free, but organizers are encouraging spectators to make a small cash donation to raise funds and help cover the cost of bringing the mural to Penticton.
While Numsen said he hopes the event will raise $10,000, he will appreciate any amount, whether it is large or small.
“It is all for a good cause,” he said.
The mural is currently touring across Canada. Previous stops have included the various home-town of fallen troops, Canadian Armed Forces bases and national events such as the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa and the Calgary Stampede, where Prince William and his wife Kate viewed the mural.
This event unfolds as Canada winds down its military commitment in Afghanistan, which started back in 2002.
Numsen stressed that neither the event nor the mural endorses war. It is rather a mean to recognize the contributions of soldiers and support their families as the tour plans to raise $1.5 million towards the Military Families Fund.
Organizers will also seek to fund other charities who offer troops and family additional support.
Ontario artist Dave Sopha decided to paint the mural on Dec. 5, 2008 when the number of Canadian combat fatalities reached 100.
“This is a person who felt the loss (of lives) and felt inspired to act on it,” said Numsen, about Sopha, who will be in Penticton when the mural arrives.
The dedication of Sopha shines through in detail that marks the mural.Spectators who point their newer model digital camera at any portrait will be asked whether they want to reduce red-eye, because cameras appear to recognize human faces.