June 25th, 2024

Local veterans honoured with Quilts of Valour

By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on February 15, 2022.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard Patrick Morning Owl and Carolyn McLennan were honoured with the Quilt of Valour on Saturday at the Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch No. 4 in Lethbridge.

Patrick Morning Owl and Carolyn McLennan have both spent time serving for Canada.
Now, they’ll both have something to drape over themselves to remind them of their service.
On Saturday morning at the Royal Canadian Legion General Stewart Branch No.4, Morning Owl and McLennan were honoured with the Quilts of Valour.
Hand made by Joan Barrett, the Lethbridge representative of Quilts of Valour Canada Society, the quilts paid tribute to Morning Owl’s service in the navy from 1975 to 1977 with the HMCS Qu’Appelle, and McLennan’s years with the 18th Field Regiment in Lethbridge from 1962 to 1965.
“I had never heard of it until a couple years ago,” said Morning Owl of the honour. “Then I got sick with COVID last year and spent 10 months in the hospital. I’m still recovering. When you put it on, you feel like you’re a part of a bigger picture. You’re part of another alliance with men who have done the same thing. It’s very important. I am so pleased and honoured.”
Saturday’s quilt ceremony was an emotional one for McLennan.
It was also an honour she shared with her family’s rich history of serving.
“I thought it’s really an honour and I don’t deserve it,” said McLennan. “There are other people more deserving, but I’ll continue to serve and for what I have done, I’m proud and from what my family has done. I’m very proud. It’s for my dad, my grandpa, all my uncles and aunts. They’re all gone, but I’ll think about them. It’s a real honour.”
Morning Owl’s time on the HMCS Qu’Appelle lasted two years before he got married and started a family.
“I got married and at the time I was supposed to go on a Super Cruise and my wife (Verdun Hind Bull-Morning Owl) said it was either her or the cruise. I had just gotten married and she was pregnant,” he said.
That cruise was slated to go up and down the west coast, to Hawaii, the Orient, New Zealand and Australia. 
“It was going to be six months with the Navy,” said Morning Owl.
Like McLennan, Morning Owl’s introduction to the Armed Forces came via his father.
“I was going to join, either that or become a policeman. I had a chance to join the Armed Forces first,” he said. “From there, my career ended up being many different jobs. The longest job (is when) I was a miner (on Vancouver Island). I worked in a copper mine and did all kinds of work there. Different job, and the last one was driving a 10-tonne truck.”
However, Morning Owl looked back fondly on his time with HMCS Qu’Appelle.
“I just really enjoyed it, the camaraderie and going out to sea,” he said. “We were a training squadron. Our ship was a destroyer escort. It was designed to escort ships and to detect submarines. We taught young officers how to do their work and to learn everything on the ship. You learn more when you teach. It was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it and had I served a full career, I could have done that, too.”
A daughter of veteran Carl Sindlinger, the value of serving one’s country was instilled in McLennan early in her life.
“I can remember in school all the kids would say ‘Nov. 11, we have a holiday,'” she said. “My father said ‘No, you go to the cemetery.’ My father marched for as long as he could with the veterans. All of us kids went to the ceremony and we all got into some sort of Cadets and I got into the reserves.”
It was after attending her brother’s graduation at Kingston Military College that McLennan made the decision to join the reserves.
“It meant a lot. I always felt like ‘I have this uniform on and I’ve finally made it,” she said. “I didn’t stay long. But I remember really good times, scary times and I remember the training that I went through. We went through extensive first aid to get our first aid certificates. We had the regular army officers from Calgary come down and do our testing. So that was scary.”
McLennan still laughs about her testing from that day.
“I got 98 per cent on my test,” she said. “Everyone was given a different scenario. I happened to pick the scenario that somebody got an electric shock. So I absolutely did everything perfect, expect the officer said ‘You did everything perfect, but you should have pulled out the plug first’.”
McLennan’s father wasn’t her only family member to serve.
“Three of my uncles and two of my mom’s sisters also served,” she said. “My mom had a family, or she probably would have served. I was born during the war and my dad was stationed in northern Alberta. I remember a bit of the war years. But my mom had saved our ration coupons and newspapers (about) the war and Pearl Harbor.”
Barrett has been sewing the Quilts of Valour for the past 11 years as the Lethbridge representative of Quilts of Valour Canada Society.
“We don’t charge for any of our work, we’re happy to do it,” she said.
Barrett gets quilt requests that have been approved through Quilts of Valour.
“It comes to me and I make up a quilt for that person by what (they did)” she said. “If they were naval or military. I tried to get Patrick’s with the native print on it. I try to work that in. I knew Carolyn liked purple.”
Placing the quilts with recipients means a lot to Barrett.
“I cry every time. It’s just to see the emotion in their faces and how much they appreciate it. That’s why I do it.”

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