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'It hits you in the heart': Bloor West Village residents create Remembrance Day tribute


Two lawns in Toronto's Bloor West Village are awash in home-made poppies, and signs bearing the names of the dead.

“When you look at it, it means a lot, because it hits home, it hits you in the heart,” said an area resident.

The names are those of people who once lived in the area, but lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

“I’m really impressed. It was very moving to see,” said John Warus, who stopped to look at the tribute.

“It must have been sad to the families,” added his 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa.

TDSB high school teacher, Ian DaSilva, says the idea for the project came to him a few days before Remembrance Day last year. Given schools wouldn’t be able to hold traditional ceremonies, due to COVID-19, his family decided to do something meaningful on its own.

“We were thinking of a way to commemorate and localize Remembrance Day and the history for the students. We looked out in the backyard and we saw a pool noodle, and we thought we could probably make some poppies out of that.”

Last year, DaSilva put out 16 signs, and this year, he has 60 signs on two lawns in the area.

“On each card is a name of somebody who served, what we’re able to find out, their address, and the age at which they passed, unfortunately. And this year, we were able to find, in many cases, the soldiers’ former schools that they had attended in the area.”

DaSilva got help from a former classmate, history teacher Katy Whitfield, who also grew up in the neighbourhood.

“I offered to provide some research on local soldiers who lived, or whose families lived, in Bloor West Village during either World War I or World War II, that would add some meaning and context to the commemoration.”

The signs the duo created each contain a QR code that links to the soldiers’ service record on the Veterans Canada website.

“This year, the soldiers we are remembering lived between Jane Street and Runnymede Road and from Bloor Street to Dundas Street West,” said Whitfield.

The Remembrance Day project, which they’ve dubbed “They walked these streets: We will remember them,” has garnered a lot of attention in the area, which sees a lot of foot traffic.

“It’s been really neat, we’ve seen a lot of people stopping and taking pause to read what’s on the signs, which is important to us,” said DaSilva. “And really neat is when we see groups of young people pausing to read and often making connections.” Top Stories

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