Schools across Canada following Laval Liberty leadership

Remembering the military’s living, as well as the fallen

By Robert Frank

The death of alumnus Sgt.
Christos Karigiannis woke up the
students of Laval Liberty High

“The world broke open for our
students after he died in
Afghanistan, June 20, 2007,”
school official Daniel Johnson told
The Suburban in an interview.
“We planted a tree for him, but
after the Remembrance Day ceremony
the following year, they said, ‘We
have to do more!’”

“It was a call to be visible and
present in our community, our
country and for other people in
the world,” said Johnson, who
works as a behaviour technician at
the high school. “Our students
went from being apathetic to
being inspired by what Sgt.
Karigiannis had done. They’re
more conscious of being people of
action—doers who are always
learning how to be better.”

“We decided to adopt all his
friends in his battalion, the 3rd
Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light
Infantry (3PPCLI),” he recounted. “We wrote a letter to the general and Col. Peter Dawe, who
subsequently visited the school,
where we told him what we wanted to do.”

Col. Dawe’s brother, Capt.
Matthew Dawe, perished in
Afghanistan, July 4, 2007, two
weeks after Sgt. Karigiannis.

Though the army was skeptical
at first, Laval Liberty has since
forged a close relationship with
3PPCLI, which participates in a
leadership camp and leadership
training for the students.

“The students have gotten to
know the soldiers, their families
and their mission,” Johnson
explained. “They have gone to
Alberta [where 3PPCLI is based]
and 3PPCLI members have come

“Locally, the students work very
closely with a food bank here,” he
continued, “as well as a child
advocacy bill in collaboration with
Member of Parliament Marc
Gagnon, as well as on a proposal
that will be presented to
Parliament and the United
Nations General Assembly by Sen. Grant Mitchell.”

At this year’s Remembrance Day assembly, the Chomedey students
joined other schools across
Canada in videoconferencing with
soldiers in Afghanistan. On Nov.
11, they also attended the national ceremony together with Sgt.
Karigiannis’ mother, brother and
family at the Tomb of the
Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, and
afterward mingled with members
of the Canadian Forces as well as
relatives of others who had lost
loved ones in Afghanistan.

“As a result of our students’ initiative, another high school in Saskatchewan has adopted another battalion, using our model,”
Johnson enthused. “180 schools
across the country can now apply
to adopt a particular Canadian
Forces unit.”

James Olivier lays a wreath dedicated to the memory of the 3PPCLI fallen on behalf of Laval Junior High School, Laval Liberty High School and Lake of Two Mountains High School at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa, Nov. 10.
Laval students have adopted soldiers and families of the Edmonton-based 3rd Battalion of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry regiment, as well as preserving the memory of their fallen.

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