Michael and Elizabeth Pratt’s dream of planting 158 commemorative trees in honour of fallen Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan is more than halfway complete.
The siblings now have funding for 90 of the maple trees and Deodar cedar trees (a native species to Afghanistan), now being planted at the Derek Doubleday Arboretum. They are still seeking sponsors for the remaining 68 to complete the “Walk to Remember,” before a cenotaph is unveiled in the spring.
“This is an opportunity where any time, any day of the year you can come here and pay your respects as you come to this very sacred, special place,” said Langley MP Mark Warawa, during Langley Youth for the Fallen’s official planting ceremony held at Derek Doubelday Arboretum on Remembrance Day (Nov. 11).
Michael, a Grade 9 student at Brookswood Secondary, and Elizabeth, a recent grad of Brookswood and now a third-year student at UBC, came up with the initiative one year ago on Remembrance Day.
“About a year ago my brother and I decided that we wanted to commemorate the Canadians killed in Afghanistan. Remembrance Day is obviously great, it has a great purpose but it’s restricted to one day, whereas this walk could be here for everyone all year,” Elizabeth said.
The siblings were joined at the planting ceremony by community supporters, City of Langley officials and Township of Langley officials.
So far they have received a BC Hydro grant to cover 40 trees, and over 40 more individual sponsorships from local companies, organizations and residents.
Despite the pouring rain and hail, the delegates present at the event shovelled the top layer of soil on their sponsored trees to complete the planting process.
Among the supporters on hand was Michael and Elizabeth’s grandmother, Beverley Pratt.
“They’ve always been really good kids, all of them, and I’m just very, very proud of them,” she said. “I was amazed myself because I know they’ve always felt that they wanted to support the service men, but to actually get this going and to become involved is a very big thing.”
Tree sponsorships cost $300 each. For more on how you can become involved, contact Michael and Elizabeth Pratt at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Langley Youth for the Fallen Facebook page.