Story Contributed by Kerri Tadeu
Cole Talbot is an artist and lives in Port Dover. He was in Kingston participating in the Artfest Kingston Summer Art & Craft Show June 28 - July 1 2014. I was at City Park planting flowers at Major Knight Mendes tree in preparation for a fundraiser I was hosting on July 4th. I walked around Artfest looking for something meaningful to catch my eye to present to WO Renay Groves (leader of the Poppy Team- their mission is to take the Poppy Memorial across the country to all the families of the fallen) to thank her for her commitment to our fallen soldiers and the families of the fallen. I saw the metal flag at Cole’s booth and instantly knew that was the gift I wanted to give. It was everything Canadian just like WO Renay Groves.
The metal flag is unbendable and unbreakable mirroring WO Renay Groves’ commitment to her soldiers, the fallen, the families of the fallen and the veterans she is honored to call her brothers and sisters. She is a Quintessential Soldier – Intense, Dedicated, Strong, Committed, Vigilant –I have been, to say the least deeply touched.
My definition of the Poppy Team includes but is not limited to soldiers who possess an outstanding caliber of character working towards completing their mission for the greater good of our country. The Poppy Team caught the attention of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Poppy Team received an invitation to have a private meeting with him in Parliament on Oct 8th 2014 so he could learn more about the Poppy Teams mission and see the Poppy Memorial first hand to touch and feel it.
Cole Talbot crossed my path as I was preparing for the Poppy Memorial Outreach Program Fundraiser in memory of Major Michelle Knight Mendes on July 4th 2014. After that event I asked Cole to make 60 smaller flags to present to each individual and organization that contributed to the events success in raising $20,150.00 for the Poppy Team and Paws Fur Thought bridging the gap between the Canadian Forces and our veterans. I am including a few of many photo’s of the individuals and organizations that have received a flag- Kingston Police, OPP, Military Police, RCMP, Corrections Canada, the Poppy Team- the list is so long because so many people were brought together from all over and now they are connected by Cole Talbot’s work.
WO Groves presented our Prime Minister with Cole Talbot’s flag and it was a full circle moment because Cole Talbot’s talents match his good heart and to have his deeply meaningful work of art presented to our Prime Minister was incredible. Hand making all those flags was a challenge given the complexity of the three dimensional flag coupled with the tight time frame to have them ready for the Cheque and Gift presentation on September 3rd at the Change of Command Ceremony. On the back of the Prime Ministers flag are all the names of our fallen soldiers, their rank and the date of their death that WO Renay Groves personally placed on the flag to honor our fallen and to mark the deep gratitude to Prime Minister Stephen Harper for his invitation to personally visit with the Poppy Team and see the Poppy Memorial.