Community

Great Canadians exhibit tours country

Pitt Meadows secondary seniors Ellen Harrison (left) and Christina Patricelli, beneath  a photograph of Olympic speed-skating champion Clara Hughes, look through the Register of the Order of Canada inside 1,000-square-foot mobile exhibit Monday.  - Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS
Pitt Meadows secondary seniors Ellen Harrison (left) and Christina Patricelli, beneath a photograph of Olympic speed-skating champion Clara Hughes, look through the Register of the Order of Canada inside 1,000-square-foot mobile exhibit Monday.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/THE NEWS

A truck trailer containing a display titled “Canada’s System of Honours” was parked outside of Pitt Meadows secondary on Monday and Tuesday. The hard-to-impress teens could be forgiven if they didn’t stampede for the entrance, but those students who ventured inside were interested in the interpretive panels and multimedia elements.

“They’ve surprised me – it’s really well done,” remarked Grade 11 student Dane Frizzell, poking around the exhibit after a formal tour that was attended Lieutenant General of B.C. Judith Guichon.

All of Canada’s honours are ceremonially bestowed by the Queen. Guichon, the Queen’s representative in Canada, toured the exhibit with a Pitt Meadows Grade 11 class.

In a case hangs hockey superstar Sidney Crosby’s jersey. He has received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his work with children. Actor Michael J. Fox has been recognized for his advocacy for sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease, and theatre masks commemorate Guy Laliberte’s co-founding of Cirque Du Soleil.

But most honours given to Canadians are earned by ordinary people. There is a Victoria Cross in a glass case. Touching it, you can see a video of how this highest military honour for gallantry is made, using metals from across the country, and then read about Ernest ‘Smoky’ Smith, the last person to be honoured with the Victoria Cross in the Second World War, for disabling two tanks, two more armoured vehicles and several infantry using an anti-tank weapon and a submachine gun.

There is also the Star of Courage and the Medal of Bravery, and the story of Marc Patterson, the Kamloops man who wrestled and strangled a mountain lion to save a young boy.

A centre piece of the exhibit is a hologram message from astronaut Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian to walk in space.

Tour guide Francois Grenier noted Hadfield is not an Order of Canada recipient yet, but will be a strong candidate.

And there is a sample of the Order of Canada medal itself, which the guide explains is shaped like a snowflake, to represent the uniqueness of the people and achievements recognized as worthy of the honour.

“Very poetic, eh,” he said.

Every national award-winner is in a database, and can be searched via touchscreen.

There is Maple Ridge’s own John Kanjer, who was honoured with a Caring Canadian Award in 2001 for his work promoting accessibility for people with disabilities.

At that time, Kanjer had spent 35 years in a wheelchair. He worked with the Columbia Housing Society, which provided affordable and accessible housing, and made the West Coast Express and facilities at Golden Ears park for accessible by wheelchair. He also spoke with school students about accessibility.

Contacted by the tour officials, Kanjer was to join the exhibit yesterday.

A map shows all of the communities the truck has visited in the five months since it hit the road, starting in Regina last summer. It will do a cross-Canada tour over a two years.

• The exhibit will be at Langley Fundamental school on Friday from 4-6 p.m., and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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