February 21, 2019 – Representatives and supporters of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign are asking for increased support from the Federal Government. The campaign will fund the planting of 2,000,000 trees between Trenton and Toronto, one tree for every Canadian that has served during times of conflict. 117,000 of the most prominent trees will be planted along and near the stretch of the 401 known as the Highway of Heroes, one tree for every life lost while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces. Support from the Government of Canada will be crucial to reaching fundraising goal by end of 2020 and ensuring the project is completed by 2022. Without federal funding, the Highway of Heroes Living Tribute will be at risk.
“What the soldiers have given us is freedom and the air to breathe democracy,” said Mark Cullen, Chairman and Co-Founder of the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign. “They have fought to protect our land, so it is now our duty to honour them, by investing in the land they fought for.”
Afghanistan Veteran, Corporal Nick Kerr, spoke about his experiences while serving, the loss of close friends in the battle and how the Highway of Heroes Tree Campaign has helped him to address the non-visible wounds he suffers from since returning from his tour of duty.
“I feel humbled by the fact that one of the unnamed trees planted as part of the project will be for me,” said Corporal Kerr. “I prefer an army of trees standing at attention over more stone cenotaphs. I think of the eight friends I lost on the battlefield every time I volunteer to bring this sprawling memorial to life. I was a pallbearer for all eight of the friends I lost, and every time I put a tree in the ground, I think, ‘That one is for you buddy.'”
Silver Cross Mother, Carol Collier, mother of the Sapper Brian Collier who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, also provided a powerful statement highlighting the importance of this project and the resonance it has within the military community.
“As a Silver Cross mother, I want Brian’s sacrifice to be remembered. His name to be remembered. His life to be remembered,” said Collier. “And not just Brian, but the 157 other comrades killed in Afghanistan, who traveled this highway of heroes, who were brought home to Canada after they died. Our Canadian flag has a Maple Leaf as our symbol. Our trees protect our Land, our lakes, our rivers, our mountains. All of the beautiful images and parts of Canada our soldiers have when they are serving our country. We owe this to them, to their families, to protect their memories and our future.”