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Shared in accordance with the "fair dealing" provisions, Section 29, of the Copyright Act.


The art of war

Sarah Elizabeth Brown, Chronicle-Journal, 10 Nov 06

Article Link

Clay Breiland puts the finishing touches on a ceiling tile he's painting in memory of Pte. Josh Klukie.


A Mc Kenzie School kid’s paintbrush is memorializing another Mc Kenzie kid for Remembrance Day.


When teachers at the Shuniah elementary school called 19-year-old Clay Breiland, asking him to paint a ceiling tile in memory of Pte. Josh Klukie, he instantly agreed.


Klukie was killed Sept. 29 in Panjwaii district, Afghanistan, in an explosion while on foot patrol.


It’s a tradition at the small, tight-knit school for Grade 8 students to paint one of the ceiling tiles in the hallway.


When she first heard the 23-year-old soldier had been killed, chief custodian Lynne Robertson went looking for Klukie’s tile, but couldn’t find his mark because his graduating class painted tiles in groups.


Robertson is a driving force behind memorial projects at McKenzie School.


Today, the school’s usual Remembrance Day ceremony will include a table of pictures of Klukie and awards he won during the decade he attended there.


Remembrance Day was always a big deal at his elementary school, Breiland recalled Thursday evening as he put the finishing touches on the tile in his family’s living room.


Now in his second year at Lakehead University, he was asked to paint the tile because his teachers remembered him as an artist.


His grandmother and mother are both artists, and he’s been drawing recognizable objects since the age of three, said mom Tine Schrijvers.


Breiland knew who Klukie was because his is a close community.

Schrijvers is an art teacher at Hillcrest High School, where her son and Klukie attended in different years.


“He was a good kid,” she said of Klukie. “A nice kid. Very polite.”


Breiland said designs have been rattling around in his brain for a while, and he started painting in earnest Tuesday. There was a dash of artistic procrastination as well, he said, smiling.


“It was kind of difficult to design a tile that would be comfortable without being cliche´d,” he said.


Wars today are so different from the world wars, the relationship between war and the media has changed and people look at war differently now, said Breiland.


And there’s such debate in Canada about the country’s role in Afghanistan, he continued.


“So I didn’t want to do something that was ignorant to all of those factors. At the same time, I didn’t want the tile to be about politics instead of Josh.”


On one side is Klukie’s military portrait. On the other is a three-strand knot between the Canadian and American flags and a yellow ribbon.


His goal, said Breiland, was to balance the national with the individual.


Klukie was in the Canadian military, an institution with a long and respected history, the young artist continued.


At the same time, there’s no ignoring the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S. as the starting point of the current conflict in Afghanistan, but he didn’t want imagery from Sept. 11, said Breiland.


The yellow ribbons tie the international issues to Shuniah, where Klukie’s family lives.


Yellow ribbons festoon poles and light standards from one end of Lakeshore Drive to the other, as well as the Klukie family’s previous property on that road.

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