Well known locally and even across Canada for its daily wartime remembrance observances, Ponoka Secondary Campus (PSC) has again expanded its “Hall of Valour,” adding two more classrooms and six new etched glass windows.
Each classroom in the Hall of Valour — a hallway at the school lined with plaques dedicated to fallen Ponoka soldiers, artwork and other memorials honouring their sacrifices — is dedicated to a Canadian battle in World War I or II, or a conflict Canada contributed to.
With the addition of two new classroom spaces, and some extra windows in a previously open space, came the opportunity to add more glass etchings, depicting Canadian contributions.
The new windows honour Canada’s war efforts in Korea, Afghanistan, Canal Du Nord and Liri Valley, as well as two themed windows, the Cold War and United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions.
In the window etching for Afghanistan, there is a Ponoka graduate pictured in the photo that was used, taken by war correspondent Katherine O’Neill.
“They are on their way to a Taliban stronghold … it’s not just another picture, it’s a Ponoka kid,” said Ron Labrie, PSC social studies teacher and local wartime remembrance advocate.
The Canul Du Nord was a significant battle in WWI. Ponoka has three soldiers laid to rest in the cemetery, who died in that battle.
“It was part of the last 100 days of the war, so pretty brutal fighting in that area,” said Labrie.
There are two soldiers from Ponoka who are buried in the Liri Valley, a battlefield from WWII.
For the Liri Valley window, they decided to use a painting from the Canadian War Museum, with its permission.
In the Cold War glass etching, the photo shows a tank with a Canadian Maple leaf on it as troops do manoeuvres near Lahr, Germany.
The United Nations window shows Canadian solders wearing blue helmets in Bosnia.
Although there was no one from Ponoka who was killed in action in Korea, Afghanistan, the Cold War or UN peacekeeping missions, the school still wanted to recognize the Canadian contributions.
“We still wanted to honour their participation in those world events,” said Labrie.
There are a total of 72 names of people from Ponoka who died in WWI and WWII.
PSC have researched those names and found out as much about their lives and their service as possible, and each year on Remembrance Day, one of them is inducted into the Hall of Valour, with a plaque dedicated in their honour.
The research is complete on about 90 per cent of the names. There are a handful of names that they haven’t been able to find any information on, largely because of their very common surnames.
So far, 16 names have been inducted into the Hall of Valour.
“We are always going to be adding to, simply because we want to ensure that we induct, over time, all of these killed-in-action-soldiers into the Hall of Valour,” said Labrie.
Because the school has had to take a hiatus from the Broncs World Tour class, which researches the names, the plan this year is to re-dedicate the plaque for Private Daniel Joshua, who is buried in Samson Cree Nation’s cemetery in Maskwacis.
Joshua had a severe case of the mumps, made it to the U.K., and then died of tuberculosis. His family members still attend PSC.
One his family members is going to re-induct the plaque.
The expansion to the hall was funded in-house and budgeted for by the school.
The glass etching work was completed by Strand Media — the new additions, as well as the original windows, which were installed about eight years ago.