Dr. Geoffrey Bird, Professor at Royal Roads University,  will talk about his initiative to produce films that focus on sites of war memory and their significance to Canadian heritage. He tells a local story of significance related to the Abkhazi Gardens and the Prince and Princess of Abkhazi.       
Dr. Geoffrey Bird – Professor Royal Roads (bio at https://harboursiderotary.org/Speakers)
I plan to talk about The War Heritage Research Initiative and my work as a storyteller. There is a difference between a space and a place. A place comes to life with story. As a youth I went to Vimy Ridge and served as a guide during the summer of Meech Lake. Memorials tells us stories about ourselves. For example, the breaking of the sword demonstrates Canada’s sympathy for the victims and the spirit of sacrifice. I returned in 2017 with 10,000 Canadian youth at the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and we remembered “well” by filling the space with exhibits and had the students work with past, present and future in building a better world. My work connects the past with the present, and people to places and their stories to take responsibility to contribute to today’s world. These sites are around the world and I work on films that tell the stories of these places. A local example is William Head Institution where the Chinese labour corps landed in Canada.  There are over 40 such films.
We are working on some public education projects connected to the Union Club. In the McGregor Room there is a plaque to those to served and to McGregor. In a documentary called “Ways We Remember War”, we are sited at the St. Julien War Memorial in Flanders Fields and the loss of Canadian soldiers at the 2nd Battle of Ypres battle where McGregor was killed. Another project is on the Abkhazi garden and the time Peggy and Nicholas Abkhazi lived in Victoria. They came in the 1940s and began constructing a home and garden. Abkhazia is part of present day Georgia bordering Russia on the Black Sea. After its Independence in 1918, the Bolsheviks killed Prince Nicholas’ father and the family fled to France. Peggy was raised in China and the UK. They met in Paris.  Nicholas served with the French army and was a Nazi POW and Peggy was captive in China in WW2. They came to Canada to create a healing sanctuary.
The top of the memorial represents justice, peace, faith, hope, truth, honour, charity and knowledge.