When asked what she misses most about her son, the mother of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin simply says, "everything."
Marie-Claude Miron lives in Saint-Étienne-des-Grès, Que., and spoke to CTV News in a Zoom call from her home.
Miron's first language is French, so her stepdaughter, Gabrielle Desaulniers, helped translate for CTV News.
When describing her oldest son, Miron recalls "his laugh, his personality … he was a joy to be around."
Miron-Morin was among six CAF members killed in a CH-148 helicopter crash off the coast of Greece while deployed on HMCS Fredericton last spring.
On Sunday, Miron started a fundraiser on Facebook to mark her 49th birthday this month and help turn a project close to her heart into reality.
The family’s goal is to erect a permanent memorial honouring her son -- and his five crewmates -- in his home province of Quebec.
Their fundraising efforts have brought in about $30,000 so far. She estimates the total cost of the project would be several hundred thousand dollars. Miron says any funds left over would be donated to various service organizations, such as the Royal Canadian Legion or the CAF Cadet Program.
The family has created a memorial website to honor each member who died in the crash and to update supporters on efforts to build the monument.
"It's a place that has a lot of significance for both the family, friends, and Max," says Miron, "because he was born and raised here. [The location] is linked with the land and the sea, which were both very important to him."
The Cyclone helicopter -- known as Stalker 22 -- crashed into the Ionian Sea on April 29, 2020 while returning from a NATO training mission. The crash caused the worst single-day loss of life for the Canadian Armed Forces since six soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan on July 4, 2007.
It took days to recover and identify the crew members’ remains, and several weeks to bring them back to Nova Scotia, where HMCS Fredericton and the 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron are based.
Miron says the support from Maritimers she witnessed during the homecoming ceremonies provided a great deal of comfort she will always remember.
"It was incredible," she says. "When [we] went through the Shearwater base, [I] was shocked at the outpouring of love and support."
Miron says her son, nicknamed "Mimo" by his fellow CAF members, loved flying in the Royal Canadian Air Force and lived with a sense of adventure alongside his wife, Kathryn.
The RCAF says members at 12-Wing Shearwater have formed a committee to work on plans for a memorial on the base as well, although a spokesperson says details are still being worked out.
For Marie-Claude Miron, building a monument in Quebec would give friends and family there a place to pause and remember, while being able to stay close to home.
"It’s hard to grasp that he’s not here anymore."