Freedom is Not Free
Jan 15, 2013

I understand that people have callings in life, and I believe that it is doubly true for emergency service personnel. Yet, I am still in awe of the people who put their lives on the line for strangers – and there are thousands that do: Police, Fire, EMS, and the men and women in the Canadian Forces. I feel so much gratitude toward these individuals that I want to honour them, not only for their selfless acts of courage and bravery, but because they do it without asking for anything in return. The word hero is foreign and foul to them, for they believe they are just doing their job. This is why I feel compelled to photograph them, it is my way of honouring them.

Every year, the Deputy Minister of the Department of National Defence honours one special photo that best depicts the Canadian military. This portrait of MCpl (ret) Paul Franklin, by photographer Lisa Scale, was chosen for the 2012 Deputy Minister of National Defence Award.

Creating special portraits to commemorate someone’s life service is one of my favourite forms of portraiture, and I wanted to find a way to show my support of these individuals, heroes in my mind, so I began volunteering my time and photographic talent to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust. The TCMT is a charity that, through research, education, and training of post traumatic stress and critical incident stress and the provision of peer and psychological support, helps the men and women of correctional and emergency services and military organizations when they need it most. TCMT works with all levels of these services, from teaching future emergency responders at colleges to working with senior staff to provide a healthier work environment. In this spirit, TCMT ack­now­ledges individuals for their work in this area. Its Public Service Award is presented to an individual who has gone “above and beyond the call of duty” in assisting his/her peers cope with the psychological stressors of Acute, Cumulative and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I am honoured to contribute to this great cause by creating a portrait of the Award Winner each year.

Last year I was asked to create two portraits. The first was Chief Eric Jolliffe, Chief of Police for York Region in Ontario, who received the award for the support he provided after two on-duty deaths occurred in a short period of time, and the second was MCpl (ret) Paul Franklin (on the front cover).

Despite losing both his legs above the knee to a suicide bomber in Afghanistan in 2006, MCpl Franklin carries on his crusade to make this world a better place. The devastating event that destroyed his legs did not destroy his spirit. He sees his ordeal as his transition day, the day he became a new person with a new set of goals and new things he needed to do.

After months of painful rehabilitation and more than 25 surgeries, MCpl Franklin returned to duty, teaching combat emergency medicine and also working as a casualty support specialist. In 2009, he left the military to devote more time to improving the lives of military and civilian amputees.
As a national advocate for amputees, he co-founded Northern Alberta Amputee Program, which later became the Amputee Coalition of Canada (ACC). He is on the board of directors and serves as their Fundraising Chair.

In the past, soldiers were sent to the U.S. for rehabilitation but now, thanks in  part to Franklin’s efforts, Edmonton is now home to a state-of-the-art rehab hospital. Paul feels he made strides in changing the way the CF treats its injured soldiers and he is now a vocal advocate for all Canadian amputees. He travels extensively on speaking tours and his talks include inspirational and humorous experiences from Afghanistan, his road to recovery, and the immense hope he held onto during the darkest of times.

I see Paul as an incredible symbol of strength, courage and undying spirit – and this is what I aimed to capture in my ­portrait of him. I have had the pleasure of photographing many of those I stubbornly call “heroes”, but this particular project was very important to me. Not only did I want to honour him for his service to our country both in and out of uniform, I also wanted to create an image that embodies the strength, courage and dedication of ALL who serve. I wanted the image to evoke a powerful message of both strength and national pride and, at the very least, I wanted to remind Canadians that freedom is not free.

Through my work with TCMT, I learned that heroes come in many shapes and sizes, that they sometimes do their best work during off-duty hours, and that one person CAN make a difference.

After hearing so many inspiring stories I began a personal project to create portraits to showcase the efforts of some of them. I felt compelled to highlight these inspirational people and share how fortunate we are to live in such a great country. My small project grew into a book, Focus on Heroes: Beyond the Uniform. With the help of a local writer, Shelly Ives-Sargent, we began sharing the stories of 10 emergency service and military personnel. Regardless of their motivation to serve their country and their fellow man, these people are shining examples of the human spirit. All sales of the book go to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust.

This project was so uplifting – I learned to keep going and never give up, that significant and terrible events in your life can make you stronger, that unyielding effort can make change, that serving others doesn’t have to stop at our country’s border, and that dreams can be realized no matter what age or obstacle you face. I even learned that retirement sometimes provides an opportunity to give more.

I am humbled that my photograph of MCpl Franklin was chosen for The Deputy Minister of Defence Award in the 2012 Canadian Forces Photography contest. As a Canadian and a military spouse, it is an honour to share not only my portrait but also the story and my feelings behind it. If I have hit a chord with FrontLine’s readers, please open your hearts to supporting either the Tema Conter Memorial Trust or the Amputee Coalition of Canada.
See also these two links for more on MCpl (ret) Paul Franklin's story:

Focus On Heroes: Beyond the Uniform can be purchased online at
– all sales go to TCMT.
To learn more visit:
To view the photo gallery of Lisa A. Scale, visit
© FrontLine Defence 2013