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Saluting BC’s Veterans: The Ride Across Canada

By Stephanie Kwok

On April 13, from the steps of the BC Legislative Building in Victoria, Canadian Army veteran Paul Nichols started his cross-country journey on horseback to the Atlantic coast.

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upported by the Communities For Veterans Foundation, “The Ride Across Canada” is a 200-day horseback ride across the country with veterans and for veterans. Nichols aims to bring awareness to the contributions that our veterans have made, share their stories and also encourage discussion of the challenges that our veterans can face upon returning home. “The purpose of our ride is to shine a light on our Canadian veterans who have made many sacrifices for the greater good, and yet live invisible among us. Canadians need to know what the veterans living quietly in their communities have done for our country and many other countries as well,” writes Nichols, a former Calgary Highlander who served with 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in the UN mission in the former Yugoslavia in 1993. “I want fellow veterans and serving members to come out and ride with me through their home towns, [so that their] communities will have an opportunity to show their appreciation.” The route for The Ride Across Canada winds its way across the country from Victoria, BC, to Saint John’s, NL, passing through over fifty cities and covering over 11,000 km; the riders will use trails as much as possible, hauling past dangerous sections or obstacles when necessary. Paul writes, “My wife Terry will lead an advance party with trucks, trailers, several horses and a small crew. She will co-ordinate with communities to find our veterans... [they will] join the ride with me for either a half or part day as we pass through, or close to their own

Paul Nichols with his horse Zoe. communities. As we travel across the country on horseback accompanied by these other riders, we will document their stories which will then be organized and shared with the people of Canada.” Events are planned in each community on the route -- check the page “Our Route” on the Foundation’s website (www.communitiesforveterans.com/our-route.html) to see if your hometown is among the scheduled stops. In BC, the veterans will be riding through Victoria, Vancouver, Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Princeton, Summerland, Kelowna, Vernon and Armstrong, before crossing into Alberta in early May. Contact the Event Coordinator, Cathleen, at cvf-events@mmgrp. ca to learn about Ride events along the route,

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Zoe and her ceremonial feather for a safe journey, received from Nazko First Nation

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or to plan a fundraiser or supporting event in your own community. Donations are being accepted to cover expenses for this event and any additional funds raised will be donated to organizations that support veterans and their families. Donations can be made through the website communitiesforveterans.com, by e-transfer to communitiesforveterans@gmail.com or by cheque to “Communities For Veterans Foundation.” Cheques should be mailed to 2911 Kersley Dale Landing Road, Quesnel, BC V2J 6L7. You can track the Ride’s progress through the website (www.communitiesforveterans. com) and the Foundation’s Facebook page (“Communities For Veterans, The Ride Across Canada Foundation”) as well. They will be updating a “Rider of the Day” feature with each veteran’s story as they travel.

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