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Former news cameraman travels the country documenting Veterans’ Voices

Allan Cameron has battled vandals, mother nature and continues to race against time to document the stories of Canada’s World War veterans while they’re still alive.

Cameron is the founder of Veterans Voices of Canada and is a friend and former colleague of mine. We worked together more than 20 years ago (yikes!) at MITV in Halifax. He was a studio cameraman and I was a cub reporter. We’re also both from Sydney, NS, though we didn’t know each other growing up.

Through social media, I’ve stayed in touch with Allan over the years and I’ve enjoyed following his passion project, Veterans Voices of Canada, through his updates on Facebook.

Flags of Remembrance display in Sylvan lake, men on horses

I’ve seen him post updates about vandals, who senselessly tried to destroy his Flags of Remembrance display in Sylvan Lake. Then, the crazy windstorm we had here in Alberta several weeks ago wreaked havoc with the flags and poles. Through it all, Allan is there, tirelessly doing what he can to show Canada’s veterans the respect they deserve.

“My family members were mostly WW2 Veterans, and because I missed the opportunity to document their stories, I wanted to ensure other families knew what their family Veterans sacrificed, as well as ensuring it’s never forgotten by Canadians,” says Cameron. Being a self-pronounced history buff, Cameron left his TV job in 2005 and set out to travel the country and interview as many Veterans as he could.

The words of his late uncle, WW2 and D-Day Veteran Perley Cameron, stay with him and drive him forward on his mission. “He told me, ‘Our boys need to have their stories told.’ Since then, I’ve realized there are many men and women that needed someone to help get their stories told. I wanted to meet, thank and listen to their stories first hand.”

Allan Cameron at grave site

Cameron has logged more than 500,000 kilometres across Canada and interviewed over 1,400 amazing veterans of all service branches and periods, though mainly WW2 veterans. He is, in effect, building a vast and treasured video archive and has donated over 4,000 DVDs to schools and museums across the country.

Can you say…wow? Truly, it gets me a little choked up every time I think about what he’s doing for all of us, the veterans and especially our kids. Here’s a sample video featuring Helen O’Reilly – she makes me smile, as she talks about her days with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service in Halifax, and leaving a “dull” civil service job in Ottawa and joining the navy for a little “adventure.”

In addition to the videos, Cameron has brought his Flags of Remembrance display to 11 communities across Canada including Sylvan Lake, Kingston and Charlottetown, PEI. This fundraising display consists of 128 flags and sponsored honour plaques which represent the 128,000 Canadians killed and missing in action.

Flag of Remembrance for Nathan Cirillo

Flag of Remembrance for Corporal Joseph Young

The display also includes RCMP servicemen and women who served in a military capacity. The displays are up for 8 weeks every year leading up to Remembrance Day and are taken down Nov. 12th. The public is encouraged to walk the flag line and read the plaques. He believes his efforts are having an impact.

“I’ve seen, since beginning this tribute in 2014, that there has been much more Canadian flag waving, more flags visible and we are becoming prouder of our country more and more. Our Flags of Remembrance tribute is another way of doing that.”

Cameron says his organization is small, but they’re doing big things. He has big plans to connect with more Veterans and have Flags of Remembrance displays in more communities across Canada.

boy carrying Canadian flag

“We as Canadians must never forget those who have sacrificed so much for our country, and we must never forget that Canada is an amazing place to live because of them.”
Here are some ways you can help Allan and his non-profit, Veterans Voices of Canada:
  • donate or sponsor an honour plaque for 2018
  • visit the Flags of Remembrance display in your community
  • have your school request a DVD
  • let friends and businesses know about Veterans Voices of Canada and its mission – follow them on Facebook
  • if you know of a veteran who would like to be interviewed, contact Allan at info@vetvoicecan.org

Allan, thank you for what you are doing. I know your Uncle Perley Cameron would be so proud of all that you’ve accomplished.

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