Orangeville opening Bravery Park to honour Canadian soldiers 

August 19, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Jessica Laurenza

Orangeville’s Bravery Park off of Riddell Road, set to open September 3, will honour Canadian soldiers who have sacrificed themselves for our freedom and safety.

The 9:00 a.m. grand opening will include a military parade, Snowbirds fly-by, attendance by Canadian Armed Forces representatives, and a speech delivered by retired elite sniper in Afghanistan, Jodi Mitic. Ontario’s Lieutenant-Governor, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Dufferin-Caledon MP Kyle Seeback and MPP Sylvia Jones will be in attendance to officially open the park.

The park is especially significant for Valerie and Shannon McGrady who lost a son and brother, respectively. Corporal (Cpl) Matthew McCully belonged to Canada’s elite Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team which is responsible for training the Afghan National forces.

On May 25, 2007, while conducting a joint Afghan-Canadian foot patrol near Kandahar, Cpl. McCully stepped on an improvised explosive device. He not only died serving his country, but training Afghan soldiers to protect their own.

“As a country, we do an incredible job of honouring our fallen soldiers,” Shannon says. “Our family has continued to receive the utmost respect and support since Matthew’s passing. However, much of Canada remains unaware of the daily sacrifices our troops make to serve Canada.”

Along with the Bravery Park Committee, Valerie and Shannon have made it their mission to ensure Canadian soldiers are honoured, remembered and respected. Matthew’s unit at the Canadian Army base in Petawawa will be represented at the grand opening.

Canadian soldiers “sacrifice months, even years, with loved ones to complete humanitarian and environmental missions all over the world…exposing them to extreme poverty and danger, often having a lasting impact on their mental health. Bravery Park will help foster a culture of support so our soldiers know they are supported both on and off the battleground,” explains Shannon.

Since the McGrady’s first envisioned a neighborhood space to pay tribute to Canadian soldiers, the project has grown immensely. Costing approximately $200,000, the money fundraised has led to the creation of a statue with a pedestal base which forms part of a Victoria Cross, funded by the Veterans Affairs Monument Grant a memorial stone; interpretive plaques; a medicine garden, thanks to the Dufferin County Cultural Resource Circle; and a children’s playground, donated by the Lions Club of Amaranth.

The inspiring statue features two Afghan children giving a butterfly to a Canadian soldier, symbolizing peace, trust and evolving change. The sculpture was designed by local artists Donna Pascoe and Peter Turrel with the help of a $45,000 Veterans Affairs Monument Grant.  

The memorial stone was designed by artist Danny Hahlbohm paying tribute to fallen soldiers, those still serving, those with PTSD, those injured and our veterans.

The $13,685 stone was made possible by significant donors such as Riddell Road McDonald’s, Hear Well Be Well, and St. John’s United Church Foundation.

Bravery Park is a testament to the realities of war for Canadian troops. The park demonstrates awareness and understanding of what it takes to promote peace and safety for all. There are educational aspects embedded throughout the park for residents to understand the true sacrifices made for our freedom.

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