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3,000 Wreaths Destined for Veterans’ Headstone Stolen

Around 3000 wreaths destined for Veterans’ headstones at the National Military Cemetery were stolen from the family property of Robert and Jodie Tessier on November 28.

During these last few months, under the new leadership of Wreaths Across Canada (WRAC), the Tessiers rallied the community of Maxville to make 6,024 wreaths.

The theft of these wreaths has put the total coverage of the National Military Cemetery of Canada at risk. With that said, WRAC still plans to hold its Ceremony on December 5, 2021, at 1:30 p.m. at the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces.

A photo from the 2014 Wreaths Across Canada event at Beechwood Cemetery.

Volunteers Needed

“We would simply ask that whoever stole the wreaths to return them to the Maxville property by December 2, 2021, so we can honour the over 2,500 veterans in the other three sections of the National Military Cemetery,” Cyndi Mills President, WRAC, stated.

“We are also hoping to get volunteers to help us finish the wreaths either at the Maxville property by helping the Tessiers or at Beechwood to finish trimming the wreaths. We had a plan to complete the 6,024 wreaths before delivery to Beechwood.”

Anyone interested in volunteering may contact Erika Wagner by email here.

An example of a mini-wreath. The grapevine wreaths being used are 12 inches and environmentally sustainable.

Individual Donors & Corporate Sponsors

With the support from individual donors and corporate sponsors, WRAC was able to make this event free to Canadian Military Families. This event aims to honour the service and the sacrifice these soldiers made and provide a meaningful ceremony as the holiday season approaches.

“Although this theft has damped our spirits, we remain resolved and ready to move forward and continue the development and growth of WRAC in the coming years,” said Mills.

Witnesses Asked to Contact

Anyone with information, including seeing vehicles in the area or the wreaths showing up for sale, are asked to call the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or contact Seaway Valley Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or seawayvalleycrimestoppers.ca.

Wreaths Across Canada

Wreaths Across Canada has a vision and a renewed commitment to provide a meaningful holiday service to connect the current, retired, and past members of the Canadian Armed forces and their families with all Canadians.

Wreaths Across Canada Inc. is a non-profit organization started in 2007 by Craig McPhee, a veteran of the Canadian Forces.

The National Cemetery after wreaths had been placed.

How People Can Help

Option 1: Dressing the wreaths
When: Saturday December 5th
Time: Shifts 9am-12pm, 12pm-3pm, 3pm-5pm
Located: The Beechwood Cemetery (inside) – proof of vaccination required
This is the final step in the wreath preparation, and volunteers will add the greenery and decorate the wreaths with natural accents. It requires minimal physical labour.
Register with Erika here.

Option 2: Creating the Wreaths
When: Any day before Friday
Time: Any time
Located: Maxville (outside in tents).
Volunteers will take the grape wine and twist it into a beautiful wreath shape. The vine can be stubborn, so thick gardening gloves are required. It is a medium physical labour task.
Register with Erika here.

Option 3: Harvesting the Vines
When: Any day before Friday
Time: Any time
Located: Maxville (outside in field)
Under the supervision of the lead wreath maker Bobby Tessier, volunteers will go around within the community to harvest vines for the wreaths. It is a labour-intensive task.
Register with Erika here.

Option 4: Placing Wreaths in the National Military Cemetery
When: Sunday, Dec 5th
Time: 1:30pm
Located: The Beechwood Cemetery
Volunteers will gather at the National Military Cemetery of Canada to lay a wreath on the military headstones in that area. There will be a short ceremony at 1:30, flowing that the wreath-laying will start.
Register for this here.

Founded by Craig McPhee

After a visit to Arlington Cemetery in Washington DC, McPhee was moved by how American servicemen and women are honoured each December by placing a wreath at the base of headstones. Wreaths Across America is the organization responsible for the annual commemoration.

After years of hard work to gain support and approval, McPhee’s dream of creating an organization to honour Canadian veterans was fulfilled. Wreaths Across Canada Inc. is a registered Canadian Charitable Corporation with a Board of Directors. WRAC’s mission is to remember the contributions of Canadian military personnel and their families who lie in military cemeteries across Canada.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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