pa180233smallerRalph Sultan's letter + text

From the Front to the West Coast” Document came from a recognition by three young Finns that a lot of Finnish War Veterans living on the west coast might like to tell of their experiences during the war. Also of interest would be the circumstances which eventually re-located them and their families to the west coast.

The idea was to interview as many Veterans and Lottas as possible and video record the interviews. They brought the idea to the Executive of the Finnish War Veterans in B.C. The importance and the timeliness of such an endeavour were immediately recognized. Our feeling was “If not now, then it will be too late”. The executive pledged one hundred percent support to the project.

During the interviews it became apparent that many of the Veterans were speaking about their experiences for the very first time. This history would have been lost forever, were it not for the opportunity to record these interviews in a timely manner. Some of the interviewed Veterans have since passed on, which again demonstrated the need to produce this document now.

Personally, as the president of the Finnish War Veterans in B.C., I value this document historically and culturally as a very important piece of work. It provides an opportunity for younger generations to hear firsthand of the Veterans’ experiences during the war, and the sacrifices of the Lottas and Veterans to ensure Finland’s Independence.

Trailers of the document have been shown at local functions. I have personally witnessed how moved the audiences have been, which, in my opinion, demonstrates in a real way how important and valued this document is.

Satu Bell, Leena Kelly and Ilkka Uitto have done a tremendous amount of work in order to produce this document. They deserve our gratitude and appreciation.

Esko Kajander, Chair, Finnish War Veterans in BC


Dear Leena,
I attended the viewing of the film this evening.
Along with an appreciative crowd, I was touched by the stories told.
For me, the film reached out and connected on a number of levels.
It is worth seeing again.
Congratulations to all,
Norman Eyford, President, Scandinavian Community Centre


Hi Leena

…I felt very honoured to be at the film with him [veteran father]. It was a very moving event, especially to see the people from the film in person.  The ceremony and film made a huge impact on me–I am proud, honoured, and grateful for our veterans who gave themselves to defend and support Finland. Thank you so much for all the countless hours you took to make the film and capture the stories and emotions of the persons involved. You are a remarkable lady!  I love Finland so much and you have made it even more dear to me.  After the showing I had hoped to speak with you, but my Dad didn’t want to stay very long.  I did get to say hi to Alvi Koverola, whom I hadn’t seen in years, and shake the hand of one of the other gentlemen and say “kiitos”.


Hyvä Leena,

Katsoin filminne. Se on erinomainen – sekä temaattisesti, dramaturgisesti  että  teknisesti. Samoin filmi  on sopivan pituinen. Varmaan olette olleet yhteydessä Suomessa Televisioon – sehän on aivan huippumateriaalia sinnekin.
T. ismo Söderling


Onnittelut Leena vielä filmi-projektista! Oli hienoa nähdä koko filmi sunnuntaina, hienosti tehty!


“I watched your film early this morning, and was left quietly thinking about it for several hours. The film was emotive, resonant and enduring. The story of a country at war, told through the experiences of veterans who survived, intrigues as much as it touches the heart. It reveals a history through personal experience. Its soft-spoken tone makes it that much more engaging. The archival footage is fascinating. The stories captivating.

… [T]he film deals with Finland in several wars and the experiences of the veterans so engaged: about why and how they fought; about the consequences on them personally as well as on the country as a whole; about tragedy and about hope.  …It is an interesting film most especially to Finns, but also to those with an interest or those who study war, conflict and the consequences, that does fine work …your labour of love. The heartfelt spirit with which you and your partners engaged in the film is very evident as are the talents of all involved.”

  1. Arvi Liimatainen, Producer, Da Vinci’s Inquest


Rintamalta Länsirannikolle ―dokumentti on siltana veteraanien ja lottien sota-ajan muistojen, ja veteraanien ja lottien perinneaikakauteen siirtymisen välillä.

Siltoja vartioitiin ja puolustettiin, että evakosta tulijat ja omat joukot ehtisivät ylittää. Siirtolaisveteraaniemme ja lottiemme kertomusten tallentaminen on samaa sillanpään puolustamista―aikana, jolloin nykypolvien täytyy myös päästä tuntemaan totuus, ja kuulla ja nähdä heidän vanhempiensa ja isovanhempiensa silminnäkijäkokemukset. Nämä kokemukset ovat perintöämme, ja niiden kuuleminen on veteraanien ja lottien kunnioittamista.

Suomen Sotaveteraaniliiton Kanadan piirin ja sen seitsemän jäsenyhdistyksen kiitokset ”Rintamalta Länsirannikolle  ―dokumentin tuottajille erinomaisesti onnistuneesta laatutuotteesta. Kiitos Finnish War Veterans B.C./ Vancouverin Aseveliyhdistykselle ja sen jäsenille haastatteluista.

”Veljeä ei jätetä” dokumentti muistuttaa myös siitä, että ”Veljeä ei unohdeta”.


Reijo Viitala


Suomen Sotaveteraaniliiton Kanadan piiri


The documentary From the Front to the West Coast is a bridge between the wartime memories of the Finnish war veterans, the members of the Women’s Auxiliary Corps and the transitioning to the veterans’ heritage era.

Bridges needed to be guarded and defended so that the evacuees and defenders would have time to safely cross. The collection of veterans’ stories is akin to defending the bridgehead in a time when our modern generations need to know the truth and see and hear for themselves the eyewitness accounts of their parents and grandparents. Their wartime experiences are now part of our heritage honouring our veterans.

On behalf of the seven member Associations of the Canadian District of the Finnish War Veterans’ Association, may I congratulate the producers of the documentary on a quality product. Thank You to the members of the Finnish War Veterans B.C. for their documented memories.

“Lest We Forget”


Reijo Viitala


Canadian District

Finnish War Veterans’ Association


Hi ladies

I do a lot of thinking about the amount of work the generations of Finns before us did to make the world what it is today.  Many of them made truly selfless contributions, like the ones you so lovingly have documented.  But this note is not intended to say thanks once again to them, but to say BRAVO to you.

No one told you to do this project.  You simply and purely did it out of respect for the veterans and the immense need to tell their stories before it is too late.  Not many folks make the kind of commitment to a project that serves others like you have.  Hats off to you three.  Your work is truly remarkable.  You’ve not only told a story that needed to be told, but you did it with such sensitivity and compassion.

Well done



Satu Bell took the initiative to make an historical documentary of the untold stories of the Finland WWII Veterans.  Her work captures the emotion that existed in a young person, and successfully shows that those feelings are still is as vibrant today, as was then.  Satu  was driven to complete the hours of interviews, pouring through Finnish wartime clips, and edited the videography.  Dedication for the accuracy of the documentary culminated, I believe, into an orchestrated masterpiece of Finnish history.

 Satu Bell interviewed 30 Finnish veterans, who since the war immigrated to begin a new life in Canada.  Since capturing these heartfelt stories on film, 8 of these brave souls have passed away.  It stirs one to reflect on the young people who perished while fighting so fervently for their country’s sovereignty and freedom, their lives cut short and their ancestral routes ended with them.  Possibly never to have their first kiss, marriage, children, grandchildren, higher education and careers…all gone, and what we have left to reflect upon are these stories willingly shared by these brave and heroic Finnish war veterans.  Well done Satu Bell!  – Krista Kennedy – Kennedy Foundation for CIDD


Hi Leena
What an absolutely wonderful accomplishment. You and your crew gave a moving and informative recollections of the Finnish war veterans in Vancouver through the documentary.
Between tears and laughter I was taken along the veterans’ journey.
What you certainly have accomplished also is a family legacy for the veterans. Their families must be so thankful that you have brought forward their memories.
Also congrats on the piano playing in the doc…..lovely
Mary Lou

Congratulations Leena… you and your team. That was pretty awesome!


I can’t help but feel some sadness for not having taken the time to talk to my Dad about his family and history. When he came to live with us, he had had a stroke and his speech was limited.

Thanks for bringing the stories and memories of others who could still tell the story.



 Dear Satu,
Your documentary about the Finnish Second World War Veterans honours the significance of their fight to defend their homeland. The Finland they knew as young people was destroyed forever by war. One can’t change history but people can start over in a new land with new opportunities and leave the past in the past so it’s not in your face everyday.
Congratulations, Robert Bradbury


Hi Leena,
Just wanted to tell you again how much we enjoyed your documentary film. What a debut as a producer!

Well done!


Dear Satu,

I wanted to tell you how much we thoroughly enjoyed the documentary.  It was not only heartfelt and informative, but so professionally well done.  It was so clear how authentic and genuine the veterans were as there was no coaching or scripting.  It made for a very enjoyable documentary with the right balance of tragedy and triumph.  Job well done and thank you for the chance to participate in the viewing of such a beautiful production.

Sandor and Jennifer Rethy


Hi Leena,
I’m sure you must be on cloud nine! What wonderful job you and your team have done. The documentary was very moving, humorous and informative…the conclusion of the years of hard work you have put in. I hope you have been celebrating!
There was a great turnout in the audience, and I’m sure the veterans felt very honoured and privileged.
Well done! ……..and what’s next?


Hi Satu,

Just wanted to tell you that I found your documentary on the Finnish War Veterans very moving.

It is easy to see the amount of work and dedication that was put into the making of this film.

You should all feel very proud.

Maria Bradbury.


Hei, Leena!

Aivan mahtava elokuva ja tosi hienosti järjestetty ilta. Onnittelut teille kaikille! Leikkaus ja editointi aivan omaa luokkaansa, me katsojat elimme veteraanien mukana; ilot ja surut. Vanhat filmit arkistoista ja uudet luontokuvat nivoutuivat saumattomasti yhteen!

Terv. Anu


Tosi hieno doc ja iltapäivä. Well done ladies ja kiitos!


My husband and I had the unique experience of seeing this historically interesting and moving documentary with Finnish veterans at its International Premiere in North Vancouver, Canada.   Satu Bell’s commitment to the project she envisioned is as  memorable to Canadians as I am sure it is for those who are Finnish veterans, Finnish born or Finnish ancestors  growing up in Canada.  The courage of the Finnish veterans was captured in this film through the insightful interviews and the direction that Satu brought to this project. The archival footage was incorporated beautifully and helped to frame the context in which the veterans told their unique stories that was captured in the well-executed videography. We were really  impressed with  editing of the archival footage and interviews that brought the story to life with equal measures of sadness and humour.  Satu’s contribution towards documenting the history of war and its impact on those who were touched by war in their native country and for those who emigrated to Canada, made for a very memorable film  experience. This documentary film will definitely stand the test of time because of the universality in the stories told, that of adversity and perseverance.

Nancy and James Eaton

Vancouver, Canada



 You were simply spectacular!  The film was so powerful, your speech so well crafted and delivered… we are just in awe!  Huge congrats on an amazing premiere, we loved every minute.  You are a true inspiration.




Congratulations and well done. Satu, I am so proud of you for helping these veterans tell their stories so the world can hear, observe and learn from them and their experience. The manner in which you helped them tell their stories was not only engaging to watch as a viewer because of the raw emotion that you managed to capture but also in the way you helped them by connecting with them as a young caring person. How you contributed to the world in making this film and helping these veterans have closure, while creating an engaging and beautiful piece of work is such a grand accomplishment. Many, many kudos. Maya


 Dear Leena, Satu and Ilkka.

Irja and I have never been so touched with any documentary or a movie than what you three have done. We were so impressed with your documentary ”Rintamalta Lansirannikolle” . We laughed and cried all the way through with our hearts. What also made this special was the fact that the theatre was full!!!


 Irja and Timo


Hei Leena ja Satu!

 Kiitos teille tästä päivästä, dokumentista, ja teidän väsymättömästä halusta nähdä tämä projekti loppuun asti!

Olen saanut niin paljon palautetta kuinka hieno tämän päivän ohjelma oli!

Tässä yksi suoranainen lause:  …”ajattelimme tulla ihan vaan kannatuksen puolesta…mutta esitys oli niin mahtava ja liikuttava

että olisi ollut vahinko jos olisi jäänyt näkemättä tämä henkilökohtaisesti”.

 Toivottavasti saatte nyt hieman levähtää, ennen kuin alatte seuraavan projektin??????

 Lämpimin terveisin ja suurin kiitoksin, Esko.


Leena. ONNEA!!! I agree with every word of Evaleen’s. Very powerful, and on a personal note, very emotional for me, as my Father, born in 1923, experienced it all in the battle fields and bunkers. And was left scarred for life.
An incredible accomplishment.


Dear Leena,
Congratulations on making such a remarkable film! Ken and I were both
very moved by it.
I can only try to imagine what it must have taken to bring it all
together but how satisfying it must be now to see the result.
Thanks so much for inviting us – a truly memorable experience.


Hyvat ystavat,
Rintamalta Lansirannikolle filmin esitys oli aivan mahtava.  Se todellakin kirpaisi sydamesta. Mielestani paras sodasta kertova dokumentti. Hyvin liikuttava kokemus.
Olitte kaikki ihania ja Mari lauloi ja soitti kuin enkeli. Oli myos hienoa, kun annoitte veteraaneille kirjan muistoksi.
Tata filmia pitaisi paasta katsomaan uudestaan. Toivottavasti kirjoja on myos painettu runsaasti.
Tekisi mieli halata kaikkia veteraaneja ja teita “tekijoita” myos.
Lampimin treveisin,


Hei Reijo,
“Rintamalta Länsirannikolle”  filmin virallinen ensi-esitys oli eilen ja sali oli täynnä Capilano Universityssa. Lopullinen versio yllätti minutkin. Kaikin puolin hieno lopputulos.



We should all be proud of our esteemed member, Leena Kelly, for the amazingly beautiful, educational and emotional documentary which she presented, in honour of the Finnish Veterns of WWII who are and have been living in the Vancouver area. Beautiful scenery, clips of wartime accompanied by moving interviews from a cross section of Finnish men and women who defended their homeland against all odds against Russia. The stories were from the hearts of those who fought for their country and it was an extraordinarily emotional and moving 66 minutes accompanied by a beautiful song with guitar music written and sung especially for the film. This was an extremely professional production in Finnish with English subtitles with Leena, and three others creating a memorable education for us all. I would hope that they would be compelled to approach the Knowledge Network to show it to a greater audience. It was simply wonderful.


With awe and humble thanks, Ruth and Jim


Hi Leena: I am sorry that I wasn’t able to talk with you yesterday regarding your amazing “triumph”

David and I felt the film very impactful and informative. We had little understanding of what degree of involvement the Finns had during WWII and knew very little of the Winter War. It was a very emotional film that tugged at one’s heart strings and I praise you for endeavouring to take on such a feat.

 We congratulate you for the success you achieved in your film making by educating so many of us.

 I am really privileged to know you, Leena.

 I encourage you to keep up the fine work as I believe that you have, indeed , found your niche. Bravo!

Hugs, Sharon


Our exact sentiments in its entirety. You have reason to be very, very proud.

Well Done….

Lise and Lionel


Hei Leena, KIITOS VIIMEISESTÄ, ei sanat riitä kertomaan, kuinka upean työn
olette tehneet. Kiitos



Hello Leena !
How nice it was to come out and see your documentary! I was moved by the whole thing.
Matt found it captivating and was completely caught up in it from beginning to end.

I liked it very much too…. I enjoyed it very much, the flow of movie, the photography, and also the stories that you chose to tell was very nicely done. And of course, the music, and your friend’s song, it seemed very appropriate too.

It was very touching at the end when the war vets came up, I have never seen anything like it. It was moving, especially as they received their books. What a wonderful idea, I thought to present them with such a treasure.

Thanks for inviting me 🙂


Thanks, Leena.
Rintamalta Läsirannikolle is a magnificent achievement, Leena! It’s really unforgettable.


Hi Leena
– I went and saw your film last night! I thought it was
great – beautifully shot interviews and touchingly told…Congratulations on a beautiful project done.


Hei Leena,
Tulimme filmi-illasta ja olen lukenut kirjaa tämän illan. Onnittelut
hienon saavutuksen johdosta!
Saa vähän toisenlaista näkökulmaa elämään kun kuulee tällaisia tarinoita.

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“From the Front to the West Coast is a cultural achievement, because it shows how vital your memories can be, even from decade to decade.The documentary is a reminder of how the memories of where you lived during childhood and youth live on forever in your mind. It is amazing to see how important it is for the veterans to be Finnish, and how the memories of war continue to hold importance for them.” – By Mika Kulju