Toronto residents step up to fund D-Day memorials
Published Friday, May 30, 2014 11:34AM EDT
A Canadian organization is still searching for funding for a series of planned memorials in honour of Toronto residents who died on D-Day, after the City of Toronto opted to not pay for the markers.
On June 6, 1944, thousands of Canadians took part in the Allied invasion of Normandy, France. It was an event that changed the course of history, and on that morning on June 6, 50 Torontonians lost their lives on Normandy's Juno Beach.
But this year, the city they called home failed to fund a memorial for those 50 soldiers.
The Juno Beach Centre Association planned to erect 359 markers on Juno Beach, one for each Canadian killed. In a letter to Mayor Rob Ford in March, the organization asked for "support in spreading the word about this important memorial initiative."
Similar letters were sent to several cities, including Calgary, Winnipeg and Nova Scotia.
"We sent out letters to every municipality where soldiers came from," Jenna Misener, executive manager of the Juno Beach Centre Association, told CTV Toronto from France. Other cities opted to pay for markers for their soldiers, but Toronto did not.
After sending a letter, Misener said the organization tried to follow up with the mayor, but when the news came in that Ford would be taking a leave of absence, the organization sent letters to every member of city council.
"We did get some response from a couple of councillors, but in the end, really, there wasn't any action," Misener said.
But the lack of funding hasn't changed the Juno Beach Centre Association's plans. "We were fortunate in that there were a lot of individuals and organizations that stepped up," Misner said.
"We're pleased with the response from Canadians."
Of the 50 memorial markers representing Toronto-area soldiers, so far 32 of them have been funded by individuals and organizations.
Each marker can be sponsored for a minimum donation of $500, and each sponsor will receive a tax receipt for their donation. Sponsors will also get an information package about the soldier on the marker they've paid for.
The markers stand about one metre tall and are embossed with a maple leaf. Each will hold a plaque with information about the Canadian it represents and a message of thanks from the sponsor.
The markers will stay on Juno Beach until November 11. Donations for additional markers can still be made through the organization's website.
The Juno Beach Centre Association has since been contacted by the office of the deputy mayor, but the city's response is unknown.
With files from CTV Toronto's Ashley Rowe