Canada 150 family project
Kerri Tadeu and her brother, master corporal (retired) Collin Fitzgerald, travel across the country to thank veterans for their years of service
Brother, sister and kids travel across country to thank veterans
Canadians are celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday in a variety of ways this year, and Kerri Tadeu and her brother, master corporal (retired) Collin Fitzgerald, discovered their own memorable way to celebrate it.
The two have started an annual initiative to visit 150 veterans living in nursing homes across Canada to thank them for their years of service.
The journey was inspired by Fitzgerald as a way to thank the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for his 15 years of service.
Fitzgerald is a recipient of the Medal of Military Valour, which is awarded to a member of the Canadian Forces who has committed an act of valour or devotion in the presence of the enemy.
The pair began their coastto-coast tour of Canada on May 28 in Kelowna, B.C., and moved east. They brought their children, Peyton Fitzgerald, and Emma Tadeu, to three of the 10 provinces they visited.
“We met incredible veterans from the Second World War era,” said Tadeu. “The average age was 95 years old, and the oldest was 105.”
Fitzgerald and Tadeu
thanked every veteran with a presentation and a special thank you card.
“We would tell the veterans, Emma, in Grade 3, is standing on guard for you now,” said Tadeu. “Because you spent many years standing on guard for her.”
For Fitzgerald, being able to pay his respects to the CAF was a huge part of his recovery process.
“This wasn’t my brother’s story all along,” said Tadeu. “He has been struggling with PTSD for many years now.”
The fog has lifted, and Fitzgerald
is ready to start serving his country, this time as a veteran.
“When soldiers are invited to go home and rest because of mental-health issues, they lose focus and lack having a mission,” said Tadeu. “By us creating an opportunity for my brother to serve Canada as a veteran, it helps his mental health.
“My brother will serve Canada until he takes his last breath.
The pair hope to inspire other wounded veterans to think of ways they can still serve their
“Not everyone will be able to travel across Canada like us,” said Tadeu. “But think, if we can travel across Canada, you can have lunch with a veteran in a local nursing home.
“Our objective is to inspire and motivate fellow Canadians to shift the mindset away from placing sole responsibility on Veterans Affairs Canada to combat the epidemic of veteran suicide,” said Tadeu. “Instead, start asking yourself, ‘What can I do to serve veterans in the community and country?’”
The last stop on their journey was Newfoundland.
“Travelling with children always makes things a little more hectic,” said Tadeu.
Somewhere between the airport, car rental shop and hotel, Tadeu lost her wallet. The wallet contained $1,200 cash, diamond earrings, a passport and IDS.
“My whole life was in that wallet,” said Tadeu. “I didn’t have much hope in getting it back.”
The next morning, while on the way out the door to visit the nursing home, Tadeu received a call in her room. It was the receptionist at the front desk informing her that the wallet had been returned.
This act of kindness caused a chain reaction.
“I knew I had to do something memorable with the money that had been returned to me,” said Tadeu. “So I started spreading it around the city.”
Tadeu gave money to musicians on Duckworth Street after minutes of speaking with them. She also gave money to a shuttle bus driver, who is planning on returning to school in September.
Tadeu is still in contact with the receptionist at the hotel, and hopes to find the person who returned the wallet.
Presenting thank you cards to Princess Patricia Light Infantry veterans are (from left) former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, Emma Tadeu, Kerri Tadeu, Peyton Fitzgerald and master corporal (retired) Collin Fitzgerald.