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‘It’s a wonderful feeling’: Memorial to fallen soldiers finds new home in Breslau

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A large tribute to Canada’s military has found a new home in Breslau.

The Portraits of Honour painting by late artist Dave Sopha, has been transferred to the Cadet Youth Development Centre after its original building was taken over by the City of Cambridge.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” said Sopha’s daughter Terri, who owns all her father’s art and memorabilia.

When control of the Kin Canada building was handed over to the city, Sopha moved all of her father’s memorabilia to the Preston Scout House. The only piece that didn’t make the trip was the Portraits of Honour painting, which commemorates 158 soldiers who died in the war in Afghanistan.

“It’s just too large,” Sopha told CTV News. “So I went running looking for places to put it and we found a beautiful home for it.”

Sopha said the painting stands 9.5-feet-high and 40-feet in length. She partnered with the NATO Veterans Organization of Canada to bring the piece to the Cadet Youth Development Centre, located beside the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

“To have the original painting here was like a dream come true,” Cadet Youth Development Centre President Dave Gowing told CTV News.

NATO Veterans Organization of Canada – Cambridge Unit 5 President Jerry Bryan said the painting holds special meaning to him. One of the soldiers featured is Sgt. Marc Léger, who died in a friendly fire incident in Afghanistan.

“I hope [people who see this] just don’t forget that these people. There’s 158 there, have given their lives for things that we believed in,” Bryan said.

Lt. Colonel Ronald Gowing knew Dave Sopha personally, helping collect memorabilia and transferring his artwork. He said Sopha’s work leaves a lasting legacy.

“It’s a living memorial,” Gowing explained. “There was a start but there’s no finish.”

Sopha and the NATO veterans are looking into building a museum for the portrait and memorabilia to fit into one place, but say the painting can stay at the Cadet Youth Development Centre for as long as it needs to.

At the Preston Scout House, a smaller replica of the original Portraits of Honour hangs on the wall.

Terri Sopha says it serves as a symbol of Canada’s heroes, but also as a reminder of her father.

“I do see my dad. I feel my dad here now,” Sopha said. “Not all heroes wear capes and not all heroes wear uniforms. Sometimes they carry paint brushes and mine did.”

Anyone interested in visiting the Preston Scout House can call (519) 653-3376.

To see the original Portraits of Honour at the Cadet Youth Development Centre, call (519) 648-3560.

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