When local Quesnel artist Lee-Anne Chisholm was commissioned to create the art for the Remembrance Day banners that where erected on the 200-block of Kinchant St. earlier this year, she felt honoured to be trusted with the job.
Chisholm said: “This was something that was really important to me. To be able to give back to the community, to give back to the veterans and to have my artwork displayed on the banners – I was just so honoured.”
Chisholm wasn’t content to just create the artwork behind the banners. She felt she could do more. She decided to auction off her original painting which was the basis for the banners and donate all of the proceeds to the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #94 in Quesnel.
“It was quite a wonderful experience to create the painting and in the process be reminded of all of the things I am grateful for. I knew it would be a great way to give back, to auction the painting off and donate the proceeds to the legion.”
The painting prominently features three poppies, which represent Canada’s land, sea and air forces, with a large poppy field in the background.
It wasn’t long after the auction for the painting started that it caught the attention of Quesnel City Councillor and veteran Ron Paull.
“I saw it on Facebook and I immediately knew I had to have it and I immediately knew what I wanted to do with it!” said Paull.
Paull, who was responsible for submitting the report to city council recommending the renaming the 200 block of Kinchant St. to Veterans Way, was passionate about focusing attention to the Legion’s fundraising efforts. He decided that as much as he loved the painting, he saw an opportunity to raise even more funds for the local Legion Branch.
“I wanted to donate the painting back to the Legion so that they could auction it off again and make some more money: it’s a win for everybody! I just hope my actions draw attention to the fundraising efforts of the Legion and other not-for-profits that may be struggling.”
President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #94 in Quesnel Jim Spencer was heartened by the actions of Chisholm and Paull and said they don’t go unnoticed within the community.
When asked about the impact of the banner artwork, Spencer said: “The Legion is all about veterans; that’s why we are here and that’s what we do. We make sure that veterans are helped in whatever way we can and to honour the veterans for the work that they have done. What better way then to show them something that they can physically see, especially during Remembrance Day. We had a lot of comments from all of the members about the banners being up there and how well they looked and how it helped them to remember the souls that they have lost to the various wars.”
The renaming of Kinchant St. to Veterans Way and the creation of the Remembrance Day banners came ahead of this year’s Remembrance Day, and Spencer believes these actions played a part in the well attended ceremonies in Quesnel.
“In my time being here, this is there first project that we have had of this significance, and I believe that this Remembrance Day we had the biggest turnout in years,” he commented.
The significance of the creation of Veterans Way and the Remembrance Day banners is more then just ceremonial, says Spencer.
“I got lots and lots of comments from everybody saying that finally somebody is recognizing that this is not just a building here, but that it actually represents help for veterans and is a place for veterans to find help and feel safe. A lot of veterans suffer from PTSD and they really don’t want to be seen in public and they don’t like to go out and enjoy themselves in public so this is a kind of safe haven for them and they love to see that stuff it’s really important to them.”
Chisholm’s painting will be on display in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #94 until it goes up for auction again next November. Anyone interested in donating or volunteering time to the Legion is encouraged to reach out to them at (250) 992-6819.
“If people want to volunteer, just pick up the phone and call us. We are looking for volunteers all the time and our membership is actually quite aged now, and as a result our volunteer base has gotten really small. So what we need more then anything is new members,” says Spencer.