Media Room

Remembering Mount Royal's Fallen

Remembrance Day honours those who gave their lives while serving in Canada’s armed forces. As part of our centennial celebrations, Mount Royal University has created the Military Memorial bursary program, which remembers their sacrifice while helping students prepare for the future.

Bursary Recipient Michelle Cahoon
Military Memorial Bursary recipient Michelle Cahoon, at the Calgary Soldier's Memorial.

The first Military Memorial bursaries were presented during a proud and moving ceremony held in the Ross Glen Hall on Nov. 8.

Since Mount Royal was founded in 1910, hundreds of our students, faculty, staff and alumni have served in uniform, and each of the 27 bursaries presented at the ceremony is named in honour of a Mount Royal student or alumni who died while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces during our hundred–year history.

First suggested by former Vice-President of University Advancement, Hunter Wight, the Military Memorial Bursary project involved extensive research by Pat Roome, director of the Mount Royal University Archives. She worked with families and friends to identify Mount Royal students killed in action and to preserve their stories.

That work is ongoing — just days before the ceremony, the family of a 28th student — Corporal William Rolfe Fox — confirmed that he died in battle, and a bursary in his name will be created for next year’s presentation.

This year’s Military Memorial ceremony was attended by dignitaries from across Canada including His Honour, Colonel (Retired) the Honourable Donald S. Ethell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, Alison Redford, Premier of Alberta, and the Honorary Chair of the Memorial Bursary program, General (Retired) John de Chastelain.

It was also attended by families and friends of Mount Royal’s fallen soldiers, as well as by families and friends of the students who have received the bursaries. Many members of the Canadian Forces and the Royal Canadian Legion were also in the audience.

The remembrance component of the ceremony began with the sounding of The Last Post, followed by two minutes of silence. Pipers then played Lament and Flowers of the Forest. Grant Paterson, an instructor in the Conservatory, read In Flanders Fields and Conservatory alumna Jordan MacDonald sang Amazing Grace as families of the fallen soldiers laid wreaths in their memory.

“These bursaries are a link between the minds of students today and tomorrow, and those who went before them,” said MacKay in his address.

MacKay was followed by Premier Redford, who in 2005 served as one of four International Election Commissioners who administered Afghanistan's first parliamentary elections. She received applause after mentioning this is the first year Afghani girls will be able to graduate from high school, in large part because of the sacrifice and efforts made by Canadian soldiers.

Gratitude

Among the 27 bursary recipients was Michelle Cahoon, a student in the Bachelor of Communication — Public Relations program.

Cahoon said the history and significance behind the Bursary made the award all the more special.

“I am speechless,” said Cahoon, trying to put her gratitude into words. “It brought tears to my eyes to be included in something with such a huge meaning behind it.

“This bursary is an honour I will never forget. I feel blessed to receive a bursary that recognizes the contribution of Captain George Garry Foster, and his sacrifice to serve our country. It’s just such a great thing to be a part of.”

Foster, who studied at Mount Royal from 1948 to 1952, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force before losing his life in 1974 during a peacekeeping flight from Beirut to Damascus.

A commanding presence

The Mount Royal Military Memorial Bursary project has been supported by General John de Chastelain, one of Mount Royal’s high profile alumni, also an MRU Legacy award recipient. General de Chastelain says he didn’t have to think twice when Mount Royal approached him to become involved.

MC General de Chastelain
Master of Ceremonies General (Retired) John de Chastelain.

“Being alumni and with my military background, I was more than happy to lend my time to this project,” says de Chastelain, who studied at Mount Royal in the 1950’s.

“Everyone I tell about this who is involved in the armed forces is really impressed. This type of initiative doesn’t come along every day, but it’s more important than ever with the conflict going on Afghanistan as we speak.

“It’s also important because younger generations are becoming more and more desensitized to the reality of the Great War and World War II and the significance of what happened on the shores and battlefields of Europe.”

Beyond dollars and cents

With so much conflict and loss impacting Canadians in recent years, bursary recipient Andrew McIntosh says the significance of this award goes beyond dollars and cents, although it’s a huge help to a struggling student on that front as well.

Bursary Recipient Andrew McIntosh
Military Memorial Bursary recipient Andrew McIntosh.

“I feel honoured to receive this bursary in the name of a fallen Canadian soldier. I feel further privilege to have lived in a time and place where I was not personally called to war,” McIntosh says, adding that he can’t imagine the pressure his bursary’s namesake must have been under when he left home to fight Hitler’s forces in Europe.

McIntosh’s bursary is in honour of Lieutenant Denis Frederick Harvey, who died overseas in 1945. He is buried in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands.

“I am happy to represent a facet of a fallen soldier’s life that was not involved in the nature of his death,” says McIntosh, a fourth-year Bachelor of Business Administration student.

“I think that, all too often, the focus for memorials is on who these men and women were as soldiers engaged in war, forgetting who these men and women were before they were called to bravery,” he says.

 “I am very interested to learn more of the soldiers these bursaries are in memory of and I owe them a great deal of gratitude.”

Steven Noble, Nov. 10, 2011