A Yellowknife woman will lay a wreath at the National War Memorial next week on behalf of all Canadian mothers who have lost a son or daughter in the military, either in action or over the course of their duty.
Sheila Anderson was named the National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother for 2015-2016 by the Royal Canadian Legion on Monday. She’ll lay the wreath as part of a Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa next Wednesday.
Mrs. Anderson, who resides in Yellowknife, lost her eldest son – Cpl. Jordan Anderson – when he and five other Canadian soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan eight years ago.
An Afghan interpreter also lost their life when the bomb detonated 20 kilometers southwest of Kandahar on July 4, 2007.
Cpl. Anderson was close to completing his second six-month tour of Afghanistan when he was killed.
Mrs. Anderson, who works for the Government of the Northwest Territories, is the first Silver Cross Mother from the NWT since the Legion began the tradition more than 60 years ago.
“I was very deeply honoured and I still am,” Mrs. Anderson told Moose FM as she fought back tears. “I didn’t believe there’d be so much attention so I’m a little unnerved by that.
“But I’m deeply honoured and have empathy and understanding for all the other moms and families who have lost people at war.
“It’s a terrible way to lose someone because you don’t get to say goodbye or have any closure.
“It will be very emotional. I’m looking forward to the formality of it and being able to lay a wreath on behalf of a lot of people.”
Born in Iqaluit, Cpl. Anderson was the oldest of four brothers. He was a member of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, when he was killed at the age of 25.
Two years prior to his death – in 2005 – Cpl. Anderson’s parachute training almost ended his career when a jump went wrong and he crushed two vertebrae.
Doctors reportedly gave him a 2% chance of ever jumping again and only a 10% chance of being able to stay in the infantry. But he refused to give up and eventually returned to active military service.
Danny Martin, deputy director of administration with the Royal Canadian Legion, will serve as Mrs. Anderson’s escort during next Wednesday’s ceremony.
He told Moose FM he’s continually impressed by the courage Silver Cross Mothers display.
“From what I’ve seen over the past decade, I’m totally amazed by these women,” he said.
“They’re thrust into the spotlight for a short period of time. How well they represent their sons, daughters and the ceremonial aspect of November 11th continues to amaze me.”