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Students write to soldiers in Afghanistan

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Monday, May 26, 2008

HAY RIVER - Students at a Hay River school have written letters of support to Canada's soldiers in Afghanistan.

The letters - wishing the soldiers all a safe return home and thanking them for their service - were written by Grade 5 to 7 students at Ecole Boreale.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Students at Hay River's Ecole Boreale have written letters of support to Canada's soldiers in Afghanistan. Among the students sending their best wishes are: front, left to right, Jordan Hordal, Paige Kruger and Kelly-Rose Hiebert; and back, left to right, Andrew Payeur, Jasmine St. John, Mason Bruneau, Desiree Bouchard, teacher Kim Ivanko and Logan Gagnier. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"It doesn't matter what you say as long as they know that you're supporting them," said Logan Gagnier, 10.

In his letter, Gagnier wrote he hoped all the soldiers make it safely back to Canada and that they accomplish their mission of making peace.

A similar message was expressed by Kelly-Rose Hiebert, 10, who said she wrote, "I hope you achieve peace in Afghanistan."

Paige Kruger, 11, said the letters started with "Dear Soldier" so anyone could read them.

Kruger said she wrote, "We support you and we hope you get home to see your family soon."

She said more support helps the soldiers get through each day.

The letters on footprint-shaped paper - inspired by the poem Footprints in the Sand - were written in the French school's English language arts class.

Teacher Kim Ivanko said 16 students in all wrote letters.

"It was an excellent jumping off point for a discussion about Afghanistan," she said.

She said the discussion had a lot of value for the students.

"It went beyond the confines of the ABCs into the global world," she said.

Ivanko even told the students about her brother Capt. Sean Ivanko of Toronto who served in Afghanistan.

Kruger can now explain the Canadian involvement in Afghanistan started as a peacemaking mission, but now also includes fighting against the Taliban.

"There are a whole bunch of different armies from all over the world," added Gagnier.

The idea for the letters came from parent Kathy Hiebert, who has two children at Ecole Boreale.

Hiebert said she receives literature from the Canadian Bible Society, which suggested people write to Canada's soldiers in Afghanistan.

She thought it would be really nice to get students to write the letters.

"The kids loved the idea and they wrote some really nice letters," she said.

Hiebert said one student wrote that people are praying for the soldiers.

"I was just so surprised the kids were so aware of what was going on," she added.

She hopes the letters will also be a support for NWT families with relatives serving in Afghanistan.

Hiebert will be sending the letters to the Canadian Bible Society which will forward them on to Afghanistan.

The letters will offer encouragement to the troops, she said.

"Just that people here really appreciate what they're doing."