STRATFORD, Ont. – A Canadian musician is taking up the cause of an Ontario school teacher who was refused unpaid leave to attend a Second World War ceremony in Holland with his veteran father.
Loreena McKennitt, a Celtic musician and composer from Manitoba, says she is delivering a petition on Rick Boon’s behalf to the Avon Maitland District School Board in Stratford, Ont. today.
The online petition alone has been signed by more than 1,400 people.
A note on the petition says Boon’s father Art is a 90-year-old Second World War veteran who has been invited by Dutch organizers to attend a ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Holland from German occupation.
The petition says the school district has denied his request for unpaid leave because it has granted leave to Boon in past years for related trips.
There is no other family member available to accompany Art Boon on the trip and the pair have attended similar ceremonies together in recent years, according to the petition.
The ceremony will take place from May 1 to 10 and the Boons must depart on Friday if they were able to make it in time, McKennitt says.
“Art Boon senior was informally invited by the government of Friesland to attend this ceremony because the government wanted to, probably for the last time, honour any remaining vets for their contribution in the liberation,” she said.
“I think many Canadians, not just people from Stratford – because of course Mr. Boon didn’t fight just for Stratford and he didn’t fight just for Canada – I think many people feel that he should be allowed to attend this with his son who has accompanied him on so many occasions and who is best equipped to accompany him.”
Neither Boon or the school board were willing to comment.