TORONTO—Remembrance Day at Sunnybrook Veterans Centre in Toronto will have extra significance this year as veterans and supporters mark not only the sacrifice of the residents who participated in two major wars, but also the completion of phase one of a renovated Palliative Centre in the facility’s K Wing.
The veterans centre is Canada's largest long-term care centre of its type with 475 residents, all veterans of the Second World War or the Korean War.
Working in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada and the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the veterans centre specializes in the care of veterans who are no longer able to live at home independently.
The $3.5-million three-phase renovation of the Palliative Centre is being funded by McDermott House Canada, founded by singer John McDermott, whose father was a Second World War veteran. Before he died he made the Scottish-born singer promise to find a way to support other veterans. Through McDermott House Canada, McDermott is keeping that promise. Phase one of the renovations in K Wing, completed in October, involved rehabilitation of the common area of the Palliative Centre including two kitchens and upgrades to the main meeting room and fireplace area.
Phase two will begin imminently and will see renovations of the nurses' patient care area over the next year to 18 months. Phase three is slated to begin in 2018 and will involve renovations of the patients' rooms.
Fundraising efforts so far have raised $2.2 million with the remaining $1.3 million expected to be raised by McDermott House Canada by the end of next year, explained executive director and fundraiser Stephanie Wilsack.
Remembrance Day at Sunnybrook dawns with a special display, as some 30,000 small Canadian flags are planted on the grounds of the facility in salute to the veterans. It's the sixth year for the Operation Raise a Flag fundraising campaign, with the public encouraged to donate a flag at a cost of $25 with proceeds this year going to grant wishes for the veterans, such as a trip to Ottawa's Tulip Festival or an excursion to a Blue Jays game.
"Sunnybrook has been proudly serving the needs of Canada's veterans since 1948 and each and every day we are reminded of their courage and incredible sacrifices," said Dr. Jocelyn Charles, medical director, Sunnybrook Veterans Centre. "Their generation risked their lives in combat when it mattered most. Operation Raise a Flag is our opportunity to honour their legacy and show them that their efforts will never be forgotten."