2021-11-17 updated: Beginning with 3 days of practice runs in October on the streets and during rallies inside Violet King Henry plaza, I officially began my annual 11 days in November, thanking veterans for the freedoms I enjoy on the first day of November. Last year's picket focus was on first Nations, Métis, and Inuit, their service to our Nation, in Canada’s military. This year's focus is on PTSD, with the late Ken Chan very much on my mind. Ken was a family man, a veteran who served his country but ended his life on the steps of the Alberta Legislature on December 2, 2019. I had spoken with Ken for 20 minutes that fateful day before he took his life 45 minutes later. Sheriff Gerry, a veteran himself, and I were the first to find him after hearing the gunshot from the guardhouse. He had put a bullet through his right side temple of his head. He laid on the steps, with his eyes and mouth wide open staring at the sky. His twitching body was all the life that remained as he laid at full attention, with the pistol laying across his chest, still gripped tightly in his right hand. Gerry made a call on his radio, while I checked for a pulse but he was gone. Dozen of police arrived within minutes, with machine guns, and the area was taped off. The Legislature was evacuated and police tried CPR in one final attempt to safe Kens life.
I remind myself each day that there are many positives from my picket, such as giving back to my community the freedoms I enjoyed over the years, as a news activist of 15 years, and as a painter, who enjoys painting outdoors all year round on the Legislature grounds. The lifelong blessings of my family, my wife of 20 years, and father to 3 kids and 2 grandkids. Being a senior, and turning 67 during the month of my picket is also a good uptake for my physical and mental well-being, taking Dr. Hinshaw's advice, by exercising each day, and getting out in the fresh air. I average at least 10 kilometers a day during my picket. Meeting folks, listening, and sharing stories are the best returns to my daily efforts of marching through the streets and public squares in Edmonton, thanking veterans for the freedoms I enjoy.
2021-11-11 Today I remember all who served our country so we can be free. This includes my great uncle Albert Brinkman, who fought with the British Navy, killed in WW1 at age 19. Great grandfather Henry Brinkman in the army was injured by gas in WW1. Great uncles William, Abraham, and Sidney whom all fought with the army in WW2, and from my mother's side, my uncle Howard Pentland whp served as a reservist chaplain in the Navy. My grandfather Cyril Brinkman was an air raid warden serving in the Toronto area during the war. I almost joined the airforce myself in my 20s, and considered joining the reserves in my 40s... but thinking about it and actually doing it are 2 different things. I appreciate my Irish, English family backgrounds, their service to their country, and preserving our freedoms.
Vimy April 9, 1917 – April 12, 1917
11 Days in November, thanking veterans for the freedoms I enjoy. The Honourable Laurie Hawn, joined me on Vimy 100 memorial day in Edmonton while I painted, 2017 Vimy, not a bystander, inside Winston Churchill Square. I remember apologizing to Laurie that morning for giving him such a hard time as an activist regarding residential schools and the war in Afghanistan. He responded "I wouldn't have expected less" Laurie Daniel Hawn PC CD is a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Canadian Air Force, businessman, and former federal politician from Edmonton, Alberta. He was the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre from 2006 until 2015.
November 2, 2021, I marched down Jasper ave. to the Legislature and met 3 veterans, and expressed my thanks and gratitude. Today I learned from one veteran, Loraine, who told me about Can Praxis, where they help veterans, first responders, serving or retired, and their families living with operational stress injuries. I added that website address to the backside of my news picket placard along with veteran services contact numbers for employment, financial, housing, and crisis issues. Mr. R.J. Sigurdson of the United Conservative Party caucus, MLA for Highwood requested that I add his contact to the backside of my placard for any veteran I may meet during the 11 days, who need assistance.
Painted on location, 2018 'The ghost of a WW1 soldier stands by a tree and watches' my gift to a veteran who currently serves as a Alberta Sheriff. The ghost watches towards Violet King Henry plaza as the Government of Alberta prepares for the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day November 10, 2018.
11 Days of November, thanking veterans my way. 2019, 'Untitled' Painted outdoors on location west of the Alberta Legislature. On remembrance morning the cannons roared, poems were read, children played, and the adults reflected. The first coat of acrylic paint was added at 8 am in the morning in minus temperatures and before 11 AM, the final coat was added. I wore my Oilers colours over my winter clothes, that said Non-violence on the backside of the jersey, I was never in favour of any war.
11 Days in November, thanking veterans for the freedoms I enjoy. Remember National Aboriginal Veterans Day, Monday, November. 8, 2021. Two years ago today, November 7, 2019, was one of the last times I found myself inside the Legislature, taking photos for Citizen Free News, following National Aboriginal Veterans Day speeches that Speaker (Hon) Nathan Cooper emceed. The Legislature has been in lockdown, with washrooms closed to the taxpayer public for almost 18 months since due to the pandemic.
CTV: Why the poppy? Poppies are an international symbol of remembrance. In Canada, poppies are commonly worn on the left side, or displayed on a wreath, to honour Canadian veterans who lost their lives in service to the country.2. When should the poppy be worn? Poppies are traditionally worn during the Remembrance period, between the last Friday in October until the end of the day on Nov. 11. Alternatively, poppies may be worn until the conclusion of a remembrance ceremony on Nov. 11, at which point the poppy may be placed on a cenotaph or wreath as a sign of respect. Poppies can also be worn at commemorative events through the year, such as memorial services commemorating the Battle of the Atlantic and the Battle of Britain for example, or during funeral services for veterans or ordinary members of the Legion.3. How should I wear my poppy? The poppy should be worn respectfully on the left breast, near to the heart. It can be fixed on the left lapel of a jacket or directly onto the left side of a shirt or blouse, with the pin placed directly in the centre. The Royal Canadian Legion advises that the poppy should not be defaced in any way, including being worn with a pin other than the one provided.4. When I place a donation in a poppy box, where does it go? The Royal Canadian Legion’s Poppy Fund donations are used to support Canadian veterans and their families, as well as members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP. This includes grants for medication, food, care facilities, housing, and emergency shelter. CTV News