Calgary cadets plant 100 trees to memorialize RCAF
By James Windler, Staff Writer
This past October, Calgary’s Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) cadets planted 100 trees to memorialize the RCAF ahead of their 2024 centennial.
The memorial, which is open to the public, is located in the southwest Calgary community of Garrison Green at 2816 Dallaire Ave. S.W. in AD Ross Park.
The tree planting is part of a Canada-wide initiative to pay respect and memorialize all the people who served in the RCAF. More plantings are scheduled ahead of the 2024 Remembrance Day.
Captain Aaron Niles, strategic planner and public affairs officer for the RCAF 2024 Centennial Team spoke on the inspiration of the Canada-wide tree plantings.
“This started when I was reading the paper and saw an article talking about Trees for Life where they planted over two million trees across communities across the highest heroes, each one in commemoration of a person who served Canada since Confederation,” said Niles.
“When I saw that story, I was inspired. I thought it’d be really awesome to get the centennial team to do something similar to commemorate and celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Royal Canadian Air Force.”
Once Niles had an idea of what his vision for the tree planting would look like he reached out to Trees for Life with his pitch.
The organization loved the idea and after further discussions, a plan was put in motion to start planting 100 trees at locations all across Canada.
Niles, who’s in charge of coordinating the tree planting all across the country gave Calgary a shoutout in particular for their willingness to get involved right from the start.
“I’ve been quite impressed with the level of support that we’ve been getting from cities and communities like Calgary specifically,” said Niles.
“I remember having a phone call with them and then a month later they came back and were like, ‘Yep we love the idea, we bought the trees, picked a perfect park for you that has historical relevance to the Royal Canadian Air Force, so whenever you guys are ready to go, we can start planting.”
Remembrance Day being forgotten?
The tree planting across Canada is one of the many things the centennial team has planned ahead of Remembrance Day 2024.
They’ll be hard at work trying to get as many Canadians involved as possible, as the country has seen a significant decrease in Remembrance Day involvement in recent years.
A survey titled “Remembrance Day 2020: Another Casualty of COVID-19?” was done by Ipsos and it looked at the impact COVID-19 had on Remembrance Day.
In the survey, it was found that 71 per cent of Canadians intended to wear poppies, down 14 per cent from 2019. Additionally, only 28 per cent planned to attend a Remembrance Day ceremony, down 13 per cent from 2019.
Canadians’ knowledge of the history involving the Canadian military was also discussed in the survey.
It was found that only 59 per cent of Canadians think they know more about Canadian military history than American military history, which is down eight per cent from the year before. Additionally, 71 per cent of Canadians believe Remembrance Day will become smaller as time progresses.
With the centennial nearing, Niles hopes that Canadians will be able to come together to buck the trend of fewer and fewer people getting involved with Remembrance Day activities.
“I would encourage the public, regardless of age, to participate in the meaningful initiatives towards the centennial,” said Niles.
He recommends attending events such as airshows, joining the eSports led video game initiative by the RCAF game force, and following the RCAF on social media for current information.
Lastly, Niles recognizes all the hard work that’s being done across the country and in Calgary, saying that he was moved with all the people that chipped in to make Remembrance Day as great as possible.
“I want to reiterate my gratitude and thanks to the cadets and the City of Calgary for supporting this project,” said Niles. “By planting these trees we’re not only celebrating the past but also growing a better future for all.
“I hope that we’re able to plant more trees going forward so we can help to create a better, more sustainable future of Canada that everyone can enjoy.”