top of page

MARCHING DOWN MEMORY LANE

Joan Paul of Membertou, wife of the late Paratrooper Lawrence Paul Sr. (WWII & the Korean War) had spent many years alongside her husband attending the Remembrance Day services since the beginning of their courtship, back in the 1980s.


Joan met her husband after he returned from the wars, but while listening to her as she was able to recant the days when he and his comrades would gather every year, the look on her face as she spoke, the glow in her eyes, made her depiction of the events come to life in a meaningful way. “He had some good buddies” she said with a fading smile, a glistening tear filled her eyes as she continued, “They’re all gone now.”


Through the years many aspects of the services held in Membertou and the CBRM have changed, undeniably because many of the surviving veterans sadly, have passed. Today with Joan’s help and the wonderful artifacts she has preserved and collected, she is helping to tell a very intimate piece of our local history. The history of how our surviving Veteran’s once gathered in the city together, honouring their comrades that did not make it home. “You wouldn’t find a prouder bunch of people” she said with a smile.



Below is a photograph of the Veteran’s marching on Membertou Street, returning from the church, heading to the old gymnasium for the Remembrance Day feast.



Joan recollects how the Veteran’s, many who have since passed, used to march during the services held in Membertou on Remembrance Day. “They would gather in the parking lot of the old band office, parade to the church and march all the way from the old gym, the boxing club now, where we would all gather for the Remembrance Day feast. Oh, it was a sight to see, there were so many veterans,” she said, eyes glowing.


Today the service has changed some but is still a very beautiful ceremony to witness. “The Cadets, and the police join us, and the wreaths are placed in the church, a lot changed when COVID happened,” she shares.


To the best of my knowledge, of all the men who went to war from the Membertou First Nation, only one is with us today, Corporal Stephen Patrick Christmas, Armored Core, Royal Canadian Hussars.



A young Corporal Stephen Patrick Christmas provided by his Granddaughter Shayla Christmas,


and a photograph from an old newspaper clipping of Cpl. Christmas.

Joan mentioned that when she and Lawrence started dating back in the 1980s, that the late Roy Gould oversaw the Remembrance Day Services in Membertou. Every year, Joan helps in many ways with the events, even to this day. Edith Pearcey, of Membertou has been organizing the Remembrance Day events for the past 24 years. It is because of the the wonderful contributions they have made, and the many volunteers, that keep these traditions alive.


Joan also reminds us that the ceremony is open to everyone.


“Mi’kmaq, are very welcoming people. The Remembrance Day Service that is held in Membertou, and the meal at the Trade and Convention Centre to follow…we would love to see everyone come.”



Joan shares the story of the photo (Left) of her late husband, Paratrooper Lawrence Paul Sr., the day he was leaving to War at Seventeen years of age. “Before he had left, he travelled to Ontario to visit his sister Dorothy Maracle, in Six Nations, Ohsweken, who wanted very much to see him off. Dorothy even hired a professional photographer who took this photo on that very day, the day he left for War.”


As we approach the day in which as a nation we will honour our Veterans by rememberithose who fought in the wars, those who had passed during those battles, at a time when freedom was not privy to all, we will all take the time to remember and keep their memory alive.


The freedom we experience without realizing, has not come without a cost, the ultimate cost, the many lives lost, for the lives we get to live.


Remembrance Day is the time to learn about the people in our own communities who braved and fought in wars to ensure our freedoms, to hear the stories from our living veterans, and share in their grief, for the greatest honour of all is to remember.


When asked to describe her late husband, Joan’s response was of great admiration and love. Without hesitation she said, “He was an activist, a leader. If he wanted to accomplish something, anything, he did.”


Although Joan could not find the word, her description suggested a hero, an advocate, and she honours his legacy today by being the voice of his memory. An advocate herself. Let us all become the voice of all our Veteran’s memories and keep this tradition alive.


Lest we forget.



Membertou First Nation has posted a video to honour the Mi’kmaq Veteran’s on their website, Membertou.ca, Remembrance Day. There you will find information about our Veterans and the contributions they made for us all. It can also be accessed by here:




4 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page