An Edmonton woman who created No Stone Left Alone is humbled and honoured to be awarded with the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Decoration.
No Stone Left Alone, founded in 2011 by Maureen Bianchini-Purvis, honours Canadian veterans and educates children by placing poppies on headstones each November. She said she got the call from the Governor General’s office back in January and nearly drove off the road after hearing the news.
“I thought I needed to pull over. I couldn’t believe what they were telling me and obviously I’m humbled, honoured, emotional, and so pleased for all the volunteers,” Bianchini-Purvis said. “That recognition, it warms your heart.”
Bianchini-Purvis was inspired by the dying words of her mother, a Second World War veteran, to not forget her on Armistice Day, now known as Remembrance Day. Since she was 13, she has been laying poppies at her mother’s grave every Remembrance Day.
That tradition eventually grew into No Stone Left Alone after her children questioned her about the other poppy-less graves.
Bianchini-Purvis believes her mother would be shocked and proud of the news.
“I wish at this moment, for just one moment, if I could share that with her, (that) would be incredible,” she said.
“It’s really sad that she’s not here to see it but I believe she’s watching over me, I believe she’s the power behind No Stone and a lot of the decisions that I make. And I’m sure just like any mother that any child receives this type of high award, would be extremely proud.”
In 2019, some 12,297 students from 127 schools placed 64,503 poppies in 121 cemeteries.
“If I had a gold star to fit on every one of those volunteers across country, I’d do it,” Bianchini-Purvis said.
Also honoured with the meritorious award are Brian Leavitt and Eric Rajah of Lacombe who founded A Better World Canada, a charitable organization that aims to alleviate poverty by investing in clean water, essential healthcare, quality education, sustainable agriculture and income generation.
Bianchini-Purvis, Leavitt and Rajah are among 98 individuals who have been awarded the Meritorious Service Decorations (Civil Division).
Meritorious Service Decorations recognize Canadians “who have performed a deed or an activity in a highly professional manner, or at a very high standard that brings benefit or honour” to the country.
Their actions can range from “advocacy initiatives and health care services to humanitarian efforts and contributions to the arts.”