Veterans Voices centre proposed

A Sylvan Lake man would like to see the town foster a stronger Canadian military history presence by next year.

A Sylvan Lake man would like to see the town foster a stronger Canadian military history presence by next year.

Allan Cameron, the founder and CEO of the non-profit Veterans Voices Canada, is proposing a new learning centre that would showcase war memorabilia and firsthand accounts of Second World War and Korea War veterans.

He presented his plans for such a facility to council on July 14, calling for a partnership with the town and help finding space.

“Veterans Voices of Canada has always been about history and education,” said Cameron, who has collected almost 800 video recordings of Canadian veterans’ stories over the past eight years.

The Veterans Voices of Canada Military Interest and Learning Centre would feature all of these interviews in a viewing theatre, as well as a display of military relics, many of which are in Cameron’s own keeping.

“They’re not just artifacts. They have a story behind them,” he said. “These are things that need to be seen by the public instead of sitting in drawers or closets collecting dust. What’s the purpose in that?”

Cameron has at least 1,000 war-related artifacts, such as helmets, letters and uniforms, and many collector friends who have already thrown their support behind the centre.

He said he’s had the idea for the past year and a half and sees it as the next step for the non-profit.

“It’s a 2014 spin on a museum. … A place people can come and appreciate our veterans.”

Cameron would also like the centre to include a room for “drop in” veteran interviews, meaning any veteran passing through can stop by and share his or her story on camera.

Right now, he’s looking for “four walls and a roof” to rent for the centre and is hoping the town will be able to designate a spot.

He would require at least 2,500 to 3,000 square feet.

“It seemed to be well received,” he said of his presentation to council. “They’ll be discussing it and getting back to me at a future meeting.”

All of Central Alberta would benefit from the centre, he added.

“There’s something like this in Calgary and Edmonton but not here … Sylvan Lake is known for its tourism and so many events that go on but I feel Sylvan should also be known as a history and military supportive community and this type of facility would help with that.”

Cameron said a number of veterans are excited about the venture and willing to donate to the facility, as well as volunteer once it’s running.

He also hopes to have the youth heavily involved.

Sylvan Lake Mayor Sean McIntyre could not be reached for comment.

Ideally, and if everything goes smoothly, the learning centre would be open for Remembrance Day 2015, said Cameron.

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