Una Chang’s Nursing Sister Tribute

2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Una Chang from Vancouver, BC, wrote the following tribute after researching the life of Eden Lyal Pringle who died serving in the First World War.

Dear Ms. Eden Lyal Pringle, 

It’s me, Una. I’ll start by introducing who I am. I’m a seventeen-year-old girl living in Canada. I like reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends and family. I live a relatively privileged life in 2020. The world that I live in today is no fairytale, but I do not have to worry about a war breaking out or a national famine in the near future. 

When I was doing research about you, I could not help but notice the evident differences between the two of us: our cultures, ethnicities, religion and age, to name a few. I grew up in a Korean household, while you grew up in a European- Canadian household. I’m protestant, and you were part of the Church of England. I’m seventeen, and you were twenty-three. I have two brothers, and you had none. 

But as I looked further, I found that similarities between the two of us can be found beyond the surface-level. Like you, I aspire to help others in need. Like you, I have a passion for the sciences. Like you, I want to take a stand for a cause bigger than myself. I hope to support others in need by becoming a Nurse. 

At the mere age of twenty-three, you made the decision that would change your life. How did you feel when enlisted? Did you think about the consequences? Did you think that you could potentially not come back? To not come back to your parents, your friends, your co-workers, to your home? 

With these questions in mind, I began to imagine myself in your place. I imagine that you would have been scared. At the same time, excited to take part in a nation-wide effort. If I was put in your position, would I have made the same decision? I suppose that is something that I will not have to worry about, because you volunteered your safe life at home to help those overseas. Because of you, I have the liberty and the privilege of wondering – and only wondering – “what if”. 

I want to let you know that I remember you. I will continue to remember you. I want to let you know that you will not be forgotten. That your life and your sacrifice is not wasted. Because of you, I’m even more inspired to pursue a career in Nursing and help those in need. Although you will never get a chance to read this letter, I will pass on your legacy throughout the years to come. Thank you. 

Sincerely, 

Una Chang

The Nation Born at Vimy Can Handle Any Challenge
- a Vimy Ridge Day message from Vimy Foundation Chair Christopher Sweeney

On April 9, Vimy Ridge Day, we will celebrate and commemorate the 103rd anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. At Vimy, as we all should know, 100,000 Canadian soldiers fought together for the first time and secured a rare and stunning victory for the Allied forces. Arguably, for the first time ever, the world paid attention to something that our young country had done, and on the largest stage on earth at the time- the Western Front in the First World War.

From Vimy, the  emboldened Canadian Corps went to a string of victories starting with Hill 70, followed by the taking of Passchendaele, finished by the never to be forgotten final “100 days” when Canadian forces became the spearhead of the entire British Imperial war effort in Europe.

We recall these momentous events to remind Canadians of what we can do as a nation when faced with enormous challenges, such as the current Covid-19 pandemic. In the four years of war between 1914 and 1918 Canada changed enormously; from a small regular force militia to Canadian Expeditionary Force totalling hundreds of thousands, from a pre-war budget of $185 million to a wartime budget of more than $740 million, with a quadrupled federal debt of $1.2 billion and an additional federal income tax, a totally new initiative, of 4% on all households with income over $2 000 per year.  

By the end of the war, over 600,000 citizens had served in the Canadian Armed forces out of a population of 8 million, or nearly one out of every 10 citizens! We had lost 60 000 soldiers, had another 170,000 physically injured and an untold and uncared number suffering from what we now call PTSD.

No one could have foreseen how our young, sparsely populated country could muster such an effort of blood and material – and yet we did.

We are again faced with an enormous challenge in the Covid-19 pandemic, but this too we have done before – the Spanish Influenza of 1918-1920, spread by soldiers returning from Europe after the war. The ‘flu’ raced across Canada, causing Canadians everywhere to wear a mask if they could secure one (does this sound familiar?), resulting in the loss of over 55,000 Canadians. Canadians once again mobilized their communities to fight the ‘flu’, converting public buildings into hospitals and creating the beginnings of a federal public health body to help create policy to manage the epidemic.  

Canada is in a new type of war now, where the fighting is done in our hospitals and our health care workers are the ones on the front lines, potentially sacrificing themselves for the greater good, for Canada. But like the two world wars, and other troubles that have beset us, we will weather this storm as we have weathered storms in the past, by being level-headed, organized, compassionate, united, and above all,  by rising to the challenge. The nation born at Vimy and during the First World War has untold strengths in its people and resources and is capable of anything required of it. The “Battle of the Pandemic” will be soon followed by the “Battle of Economic Recovery”, and Canada will emerge changed but unbowed by these challenges as we carve out our continuing grand destiny.

– Christopher Sweeney, Chair of the Vimy Foundation

New Water Feature Honours Legacy of Vimy Ridge

April 9, 2020

The Vimy Foundation and the Love Family Foundation are proud to announce a joint effort to commemorate the legacy of the Battle of Vimy Ridge- The Ridge: To Venerate A Buried History. The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park in France, an established living memorial, will soon be home to the water feature, which was commissioned after a competition with entrants from Canada’s leading design universities. 

The winning team combined the talents of three Thesis Level Masters of Architecture students: Scott Normand, Kevin Complido, and Brendan Dyck. In their proposal, the team states: 

The intention driving the project is for this theoretical interaction to be tranquil and thought-provoking and for it to reinforce the dialogue of peace and remembrance.

Jon and Nancy Love, selection committee members from the Love Family Foundation, felt strongly about selecting the design  as the competition winner: 

What made The Ridge stand out from other designs was its use of echo chambers and agitators below the surface which reverberate the sound of flowing water to create a contemplative environment in the Park.

The proposed design is to be realised this summer and unveiled in the fall.

The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, designed by Canadian landscape architect Linda Dicaire, opened in 2018 to mark the centennial of the end of the Great War. Funded by the Vimy Foundation, the park provides a space of reflection on Canadian achievement at Vimy Ridge.

The message of Vimy Ridge is one of bravery, sacrifice and strength in unity. The battle, which took place on April 9, 1917, is commonly highlighted as a turning point in Canadian history, where the four Canadian divisions fought together as a single fighting force for the first time. The event is often cited as the beginning of Canada’s evolution from dominion to independent nation.

 

Anuj Krishnan’s Soldier Tribute

2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Anuj Krishnan from Edmonton, AB, wrote the following tribute after researching the life of George Mason Lavell who died serving in the First World War.

When speaking of war, we often trivialize and generalize the experiences of those who served, clumping thousands if not millions of stories, circumstances, and dreams into one narrative. The danger in this is that we gloss over the individual. After all, wars are not just fought by nations, but more so through individuals, which means that we have a duty to honour their sacrifice, their story, and the circumstances that brought them to war. Crucial to this is to look beyond the service number to the actual name, for that will tell a story. 

George Mason Lavell even in the short time that he was alive had dreams, and goals. He had chosen to attend the University of Alberta, chosen to pursue a law degree, went to university mere minutes from his household- staying close to his family- yet throughout it all he was influenced by the military. 

While attending the U of A he enlisted with the 4th Universities Company and joined the war effort mere months before earning his law degree. 

In researching and learning about George Mason Lavell, I realized that above all else it was his background that led him to enlist. His father was British through and through but held roots in the Brittany region of France for which they gained the last name “Lavell”. On his mother’s side, she was part Irish, part Scottish. All in all, this reveals the strong ties, and patriotism Lavell must have felt for his motherland: Britain. 

His family had been situated in Eastern Ontario for all but four years of his life, and he must have grown a strong connection to his Anglophone roots so when the time came, Lavell was willing to drop all that he was about to achieve in Edmonton and defend his motherland. In this Lavell is similar to other Anglophones who decided to serve. They felt compelled to defend Britain because their families had only immigrated to Canada recently hence they felt more tied to Britain and more willing to lay down their life for their country. 

After his death, Lavell still carries a legacy, a legacy of hard work, patriotism, determination. A legacy that is still celebrated today with his posthumous admission into the Alberta Bar in 2018. A legacy that will not be forgotten, a name carved into the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. And that is the story, the life of George Mason Lavell, Service Number 475388. 

 

Coralie Bureau’s Soldier Tribute

2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Coralie Bureau from Victoriaville, QC, wrote the following tribute after researching the life Eugene Auger who died serving in the First World War.

At the beginning of the First Word War, Canadian soldiers helping in Europe were volunteers. However, the lack of soldiers to send to the front resulted in a variety of techniques to promote enrolment. For example, recruiters were sent as early as 1915 to Victoriaville, my hometown, to solicit and enlist men. However, these men did not always act ethically. They were paid “by the unit”, which is why some of them didn’t hesitate to drink with young men and to pay for their drinks. When these young men were drunk, the recruiters made them sign the military engagement documents. Once these documents were signed, there was no turning back. 

Eugene Auger, of Victoriaville, enlisted in the army that same year when the conscription had not yet been voted. In my opinion, it was perhaps the presence of these recruiters that incited Eugène Auger to enlist in the army. It may have been done ethically or not, but he did serve at the front. 

I believe that the propaganda at the time to promote the war effort may have also influenced Eugene Auger’s decision. In fact, daily editorials, political speeches and posters exerted great pressure on men. They were very coveted to serve in the army. Some of these propagandists wanted to push men into enlistment and did so by questioning their masculinity. Eugene Auger was 21 years old when he joined the war effort, so I think questioning his virility may have encouraged him to enlist. 

To conclude, I believe Eugene Auger was a very courageous young man, because no matter what conditions led him to enlist in the Canadian army, he fought at the front and served his country in the most honourable way. Moreover, his life 100 years later is for me an example of bravery and reliability. Eugene Auger enlisted to fight at the front, and so he did. He lived up to his commitment despite the fact he was probably filled with fear during that war. I know it, because according to my research, he died at the front in the middle of a battle, two years after he enlisted. 

From now on, when I’ll walk past the Victoriaville cenotaph where Eugène Auger is commemorated, I will think of this man and the courage he has shown. On behalf of myself and the entire city of Victoriaville, I would like to thank him very sincerely for his bravery.