Bringing The Poppy Home

Making remembrance more than something we feel, but something we do. WO Groves & Sgt. Huizinga 18 Oct. 2013

Project Background    
November 11, 2011 the last Remembrance Day parade of Operation ATHENA, LGen Jonathan Vance, (left) placed a poppy on each plaque of the Kandahar Airfield Memorial while our minister of  National Defense Peter MacKay read each name of those who were lost in Afghanistan while serving under Canadian Command.  
In keeping with a tradition that began at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, soldiers attending this ceremony laid their poppies on the monument at the conclusion of the parade.  

The 2011 Remembrance Day ceremony in Kandahar was the last. After nearly a decade of combat, Canadians have largely pulled out, leaving about 1,000 personnel to aid in the training of Afghan soldiers and police. To mark the occasion, Defence Minister Peter MacKay joined the ceremony in Kandahar. "We have a solemn duty to remember those who served, especially those who have fallen in service to their country," he said in a statement.

A cenotaph that has stood as a memorial to the Canadians killed in Afghanistan was packed up and brought home. The poppies placed on the memorial were given to WO Renay Groves (21 EW Regiment, Kingston, ON).

I'm proud to add Renay is also a Newfoundlander.

A team has been assembled by WO Groves and Sgt Huizinga to design a memorial that will preserve and honor the memory of our fallen heroes. The team will mount the poppies from the last Remembrance Day ceremony in Kandahar in such a way as to retain the solemnity and respect that each represents. As a team, THEY have decided where and how this memorial was presented on Nov 11, 2013, and where it will make its permanent home. While involved in this project our team gained a deeper understanding of how our soldiers in Afghanistan made unthinkable sacrifices, witnessed unknowable horrors, and struggled against a threat so enormous as to be almost incomprehensible.  

WO Renay Groves –        OPI
Sgt Greg Huizinga –        2 IC
WO Chris Hiscock –        Memorial Build IC
MCpl Russ Gray –            Historical Writing
MCpl Ryan Kitchen –       Fundraising
LS Greg Mackay –           Graphics Coordinator
Cpl Dave Mercer –           Memorial Build
Cpl Shawn Lawrence –    Fundraising & Marketing
Sgt Karey Wood –            Poppy Painting
Pte Joey Fleury –              Facebook IC
WO Scot Spencer –         PR & Memorial Build
Cpl Brad Pressling –        Operational Support IC
Cpl Ryan Doell –               Memorial Build
PO2 Geoff Whitten –        Admin Director
Sgt Patrick Rule –             OUTCAN Liaison
MCpl Christian Lachance–Technical Assistance
Mr. Phil Kitchen –              Afghan Veteran

  • 202 WKSP, Montreal QC (Henrique Santana, Denis Belanger)
  • Eric Sheikh, DGLEPM, Senior Manager Heavy Armoured Vehicles (Leopard 1 Variants) TAL10S
  • MGen Vance
  • Davar Bronzing, Kevin Fredericks
  • Scott Ferris, Marketing Director, RCL
  • Andrea Siew, Dominion Command
  • Joe Bedard, Atkinson Home Building Center, Kingston ON


1.The base is a trapezoid made of aluminum to support the memorial as a whole. Attached to this is a road-wheel from a battle-damaged Leopard tank.

2.The intermediate portion of the memorial consists of the engine vents (louvres) from the same tank constructed to form a tube supporting the upper portion of the memorial. At the top of the vents there is a brass band (one piece) with all of the names of the fallen soldiers engraved on it. Resting on top of this will be a battle-damaged hatch from the tank. The circular configuration signifies the role of our soldiers in protecting and surrounding our nation. The poppies (bronzed and painted) will be attached to the road wheel, vents and hatch to represent how our soldiers protect and support our country (the Maple Leaf) and fight alongside their fire team partner. They will be mounted in a pseudo-random fashion, in such a way as to represent the randomness of each event and the randomness of death in war. The only stipulation is that no one poppy is completely covered by the rest. Also, this represents how no single sacrifice is greater than another.

3.The Maple Leaf itself will be mounted to a support roller from the tank, allowing it to rotate as needed. The Leaf has been cut from the back deck of the battle-damaged tank. It has been painted in such a way as to preserve the integrity of the battle-damage.

1. Portability
2. Rotating Maple Leaf
3. Stability
4. Size – Maple leaf approximately 3’ x 3’, Memorial approximately 75” tall (1905mm)
5. Weight – Total approximate weight ivo 425 lbs.
6. Maintain battle-damaged components in their original state as much as possible.
7. Coating to preserve the Memorial long-term.
8. Paint – same paint as utilized on our armoured vehicles in Afghanistan.
9. Poppies painted by veteran Sgt Karey Wood
The Poppy Memorial Monument

Documents used in planning and development:

Word File - 21 EW Regt - BN Poppy Project

PowerPoint - Bringing the Poppy Home 18 Oct 2013


1.  The intent now is to participate in a variety of ceremonies and activities during Remembrance Week and on Remembrance Day.
2.  The “permanent” home of The Poppy Memorial has yet to be determined.
3. The Poppy Team received the finished Poppy Memorial from 202 WKSP in Montreal during a formal transfer ceremony 17 Oct 13.
4. Integration of the Canadian Flag from Afghanistan via shadow box ongoing.
5. HRH participated in an unveiling ceremony on 25 Oct 2013. She affix a poppy on the Memorial in an act of remembrance and to honor our fallen.


Below are the only pictures given to me of some of the places the Memorial was displayed.

Jacques De Winter standing and WO Renay Groves in front and between the Afghanistan Poppy Memorial which she spearheaded and the stained glass panel replica made by Jacques and donated to the Maritimes Newfoundland Branch. A larger picture of the panel shown here.

"I can't begin to tell you what it meant to everyone, and especially me, for you (Renay) and your dedicated group to put the Afghanistan memorial on display at our branch in Guelph on Canada's birthday. It was truly an event that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I thank you and your group from the bottom of my heart. It has renewed my faith in Canada's Veterans." - Jacques (Jack) M. De Winter






Below are all the pictures I have. . .















To the right of the memorial, in the white shirt is Mike Seitz, a retired career RCAF airman, and the legion uniform is Ken Budd, one of two branch Ministers and both are members of Col. John McCrae Memorial branch 234 in Guelph. The lady is WO Reney Groves the team leader for "Bringing the Poppy Home Memorial" The most relaxed person there is the creator of the Memorial Glass Panel Replica. - Jacques M. De Winter.