The Saskatchewan Remembrance Project is documenting the final resting places of soldiers from the province who died in combat.
It started when Chris Harris was tasked as a journalist with finding a Saskatchewan-centric story for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
“I grew up visiting Normandy quite frequently. My family is from a place nearby, they’re from the entire area, so I was familiar (with the area),” Harris said via Skype from Regina.
“When I was there, I decided that I would really take a look and see how many Saskatchewan soldiers had perished (on D-Day) and the number was high, but I figured that I would be able to document that. So I took it upon myself to go to those grave markers and take those pictures, kind of repatriate … and then bring them back here and set them up at the cenotaph on Nov. 11 (for Remembrance Day) every year.”
In 2016, Harris photographed the gravesites of the 65 Saskatchewan soldiers who died on June 6, 1944, in Normandy during the Second World War.
According to Harris, the project continues to evolve to fulfill its mandate of remembering Saskatchewan soldiers who have paid the ultimate price.
“There’s been two phases so far, I’ve done the D-Day and then also I’ve photographed the 246 graves of all of the Saskatchewan soldiers who died east of the Apennine Mountains in Italy,” Harris said.
“The reason why I chose that area as the second phase was because of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, which has a rich history here in Regina. So what I’ve done this time is I have revisited the D-Day gravesites and I’ve made those virtually available (on the Facebook page).”
He also adds some information about the soldiers to his photos that he’s taken from Bill Barry’s book, Age Shall Not Weary Them: Saskatchewan Remembers Its War Dead.
In the meantime, Harris is waiting to go overseas for the next phase of his project.
“Right now, the challenge is getting over there. It’s obviously very uncertain times (with the COVID-19 pandemic),” Harris said.
“What I would really love to do is follow the Canadian army and the 14,000 Canadian troops that landed at Juno (Beach) on D-Day and follow them in two directions.
“One direction would be towards Germany, and also there’s a rich, rich history and a lot of Canadians and Saskatchewan soldiers who found their final resting place in Holland which is definitely most likely going to be the next target for me.”
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