As a child, Maureen Bianchini Purvis was asked by her mother, when she was very ill and dying to never forget her on Armistice Day.
Every year since her mother’s passing, Purvis has laid a poppy on her mother’s grave. After marrying and having two daughters, she began bringing them along as soon as they could walk.
As her daughters grew older, they asked the question “Why don’t the other graves have poppies?” With the help from a few friends, they decided to try and complete the task of laying poppies on the headstones of all the Veterans in the Field of Honour in Beechmount Cemetery.
“I had the privilege of meeting a young Lt. Colonel, who is now the Commander of the 3rd Division, and he was the first to sit down with me and talk about the idea,” says Purvis. “The first event, he showed up with his soldiers already standing at each row waiting for the local schools to arrive.”
Without a podium, guest speakers, or a concrete idea of what they were doing, the initiative took off.
Since launching No Stone Left Alone in 2011 in recognition of the sacrifice of the Canadian men and women who have lost their lives in service, it has become her mission to see that one day all of the soldiers’ headstones would have a poppy placed in their honour.
Every November, from the 1st of the month until the 11th, the organization, based in Edmonton plans ceremonies in military cemeteries across the country.
“It’s had a huge impact, and I think because of the simplicity of getting communities involved in something again,” says, Purvis. “These communities take this little, simple act and they turn it into such an honourable event.”
On November 5th, the annual No Stone Left Alone event was held in Ottawa at the Beechwood Cemetery with École élémentaire Catholique Saint-François-d’Assise. Over 100 students, veterans active Canadian Forces Members, Cadets and families came together and placed 5,000 poppies on the stones.
Across Canada, No Stone Left Alone events will place over 50,000 poppies with the help of nearly 9,000 students.
Purvis hopes that one day, there will be no stone left alone and that all are honoured across the country.
Locate a No Stone Left Alone Ceremony near you, or donate to the foundation visit their website.