Video – Kingston Youths Learn About Service, Sacrifice and the Environment Along the Highway of Heroes

In Editor Choice, Local

Seven youths from the Kingston area learned about service and sacrifice along the Highway of Heroes on Saturday, April 27, 2024.

Kerri Tadeau along with two others adopted the entire section of the Highway of Heroes from Trenton to Toronto in 2016 in honour of the fallen including her close friend Major Michelle Knight Mendes who died in Afghanistan and was the 118ths soldier who died in Afghanistan.

Tadeu has started a program called Highway of Heroes Youth Day and twice a year youth clean up the on and off-ramps of the Highway of Heroes (Highway 401) at Grafton which is dedicated in memory of Mendes.

Each year Mendes mother, Dianne comes out to help clean the area as well and speaks to the youths ranging in age from 13-years-old to 15-years-old.

While travelling along Highway 401 to Grafton, Tadeu said she explains to the youths starting in Trenton about what the Highway of Heroes is, how it started and how unique and respected it is throughout the world, “and never forgetting to say Michelle’s name.”

With the amount of garbage each time volunteers to come out to clean it’s important to teach the youths what effect this has on the environment.

“We’re out here to honour of fallen soldier, to pay our respects to a mother of a fallen soldier, but yet there is this aspect of garbage.”

Teaching the youths that depending if the garbage is on the left or right hand side of the roadway you can likely tell whether the passenger or driveway is at fault.

Because of the distance some garbage is from the shoulder, Tadeu said unfortunately a lot of the garbage is from transport drivers.

“There is a lot of bags full of faecal matter, a lot of urine containers – it has to be the truckers.”

“It doesn’t make sense to me, it never will make sense to me that we live in Canada, a beautiful country and people are still littering – that still boggles my mind.”

But Tadeau adds teaching the youth who will soon be driving about the importance of not littering is something they will remember.

Tadeau spoke to the youths about some of the garbage ends up in waterways, which ends up in animals – the ripple effect of not honouring our fallen, not respecting our Canadian Armed Forces members is a ripple effect in itself, but the ripple effect of not littering is vast.

Along with the garbage is the continuous amount of alcohol containers.

“Still to this day, the amount of alcohol containers that we pick up is astonishing and letting them know that don’t drink and drive, but also be conscious of the fact there are people that are drinking and driving.”

It was 13-year-old Timothy Stewart’s first time cleaning the Highway said since he now knows about history would love to come again.

“I love helping out the community and it’s a really good cause since I know the story behind it now.”

Stewart said he couldn’t believe the amount of garbage along both sides of the road.

“There is like a lot – and it’s everywhere. And this is only a small part of the Highway.”

“It’s really sad to see the alcohol (containers) because there is a lot of it and it’s really bad.”

Dianne Knight was presented a bouquet of flowers from each of the youths.

“The fact that you guys keep coming back is the best present for me. You’re doing your civic duty and you’re honouring my daughter which makes me so happy and I can’t thank you enough.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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