Tribute to Katherine Maud MacDonald

As a part of the 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, Jeriann Hsiao wrote a tribute to Nursing Sister Katherine Maud MacDonald, the first Canadian nurse killed in action during the First World War. Hsiao was the first of our pilgrimage participants to choose to pay homage to a Nursing Sister. Read the tribute below.

Dear Katherine,

Brantford has changed so much since you left. I thought this letter was the perfect opportunity to update you. 

Can you believe that Brantford, Brant County, and Six Nations had the highest per capita enlistment rate in the Great War? I was shocked when I heard that! I thought Brantford was the most boring town ever. You see, Brantford is no longer the economic powerhouse it was back in your day. Demand dropped, businesses left, and the city fell apart. But we have started to regain our footing, and I believe remembering our history will play a huge role in the revival of our hometown. 

The biggest testament to our history is the cenotaph across from the armoury. It was designed by Walter Allward, who later designed the Canadian National Vimy Memorial! How cool is it that the same architect of the memorial commemorating the most significant Canadian victory in the entire war also constructed a memorial for Brantford? I visited the cenotaph recently so I could take a picture to show everyone participating in the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. And there it was – your name for all to see!

Of course, I can’t forget to mention our high school, Brantford Collegiate Institute. I walk by the plaque and portraits commemorating you and the school’s other alumni who were killed in the First World War almost daily. It’s very special that current students can remember our past students so easily. On Remembrance Day, the Grade 10 Laurier class organizes and presents a Remembrance Day assembly to the entire school. I was part of the assembly when I was in Grade 10, and that is a learning experience I will never forget. You and the many other students from our school who never returned home to Brantford will continue to be remembered at BCI. We have not forgotten you and the immense responsibility we have to preserve your legacy.

Visiting the Ring of Remembrance and seeing your name engraved on one of the many panels will be the highlight of the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. I brought a backpack signed by many BCI staff and students, and I am taking a picture of it alongside your name to show our school that our history is real, and it cannot be dismissed, ignored, or forgotten. I also have the chance to visit a BCI soldier’s grave in Tyne Cot and locate the names of BCI soldiers on the Vimy Memorial and on Menin Gate. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to honour so many BCI students within one week.

Thank you for inspiring me with your courage and selflessness. You have shown me that Brantford women can accomplish great things. Thank you for making me believe in myself and in Brantford.

Lest we forget.

Sincerely,

Jeriann Hsiao

A Vimy Ridge Day Conversation

On April 9th, 2020, Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Alexandra Elmslie from Guelph, ON, had the chance to talk to Margaret Willoughby, daughter of Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid who was at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and whose words are etched into the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Elmslie writes about the significance of this Vimy Ridge Day call below.

As youth today, we aren’t often provided with the opportunity to reach into the past and make a personal connection with someone having first-hand knowledge of a historical event.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak with Margaret Willoughby, daughter of Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid, one of the brave soldiers who fought at Vimy Ridge in 1917. Being one of the recipients of the 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, I was very excited about this opportunity to learn more about Margaret’s father, who played an integral role in one of Canada’s historic military battles. 

Margaret was eager to share her remarkable story with me, speaking not only of her father’s involvement in the Battle of Vimy Ridge but also of his extraordinary influence in Canadian history. Margaret spoke very fondly of her father, primarily recalling memories of them together in his study as he wrote. 

She expressed great pride in his accomplishments, explaining how her father became the inaugural Canadian historian for the First World War and how his aptitude for writing led him to compose several historical publications. His penchant for writing was forever immortalized when his phrase, “To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada,” was chosen as an inscription on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. 

More importantly, however, she spoke to me about her father’s participation in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. She recalled her father’s stories about his time in the underground tunnels before the battle where his fellow comrades and him inscribed their names on the limestone walls. 

I am unable to express how truly incredible the experience was for me to personally hear about a soldier’s experience during Vimy through Margaret. It helped me appreciate the Battle of Vimy Ridge from another perspective, deepening and illuminating my knowledge of this historic event. 

When I travel to Belgium and France with the Vimy Pilgrimage Award, her perspective will undoubtedly influence my experience. When I look at the monument and read the inscription, her heartfelt pride in her father’s accomplishments will no doubt come soaring back to me. 

This experience also served as a reminder of the critical role our generation plays in preserving the memory of the First World War over one hundred years later. Throughout our conversation, Margaret was insistent that her father’s memory, and that of his fellow soldiers, be kept alive by our generation. 

As the past recedes further recedes from us, it is crucial to continue remembering the hardships endured and the sacrifices made by those who fought for a larger purpose than themselves, a task which Margaret and countless others like her hope our generation can fulfill.

As we undergo this global pandemic, it’s important to remember all the difficult times our nation has endured. Speaking with Margaret reminded me of our ability, as a people and as a nation, to persevere in the face of adversity, a trait as prevalent today as it was in 1917. We are once again called together to unite as one people fighting for the common good; we are called to unite in the face of a common enemy and put the welfare of all Canadians at the forefront of our minds.

-Alexandra Elmslie

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

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. 

The 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award Postponed

March 12, 2020

Given the recent developments in international travel bans linked to the Coronavirus pandemic, the Vimy Foundation, supported by program sponsors Scotiabank and Air Canada, has decided to postpone the 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award.

20 students from across Canada were selected for this year’s Vimy Pilgrimage Award. The prize recognizes the actions of young people who are dedicated to the betterment of society by demonstrating an outstanding commitment to volunteer work through positive contributions, notable deeds, or bravery benefiting their peers, school, community, province, or country.

The fully funded educational program usually takes place in Belgium and France in the week leading up to Vimy Ridge Day (April 9th). Due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the Vimy Foundation has decided to suspend its educational programs involving student travel to Europe for the immediate future. The 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award is, at present, postponed to a later date to be confirmed.

The Vimy Foundation values the safety and well-being of its program participants and their communities above all else.

In the years surrounding the end of the First World War, the Spanish flu claimed more lives than both World Wars combined. The pandemic nature of the flu was downplayed, in order to preserve wartime morale which resulted in individuals coming home to Canada sick or contagious.

Transparency and caution are key factors in avoiding the reoccurrence of a Spanish-flu-like global pandemic. The Vimy Foundation aims to keep its award recipients, their families, and their communities safe and to ensure that the actions of Canada’s past inform contemporary decision making in a constructive manner.

Keneisha Charles’ Reflections on the Vimy Pilgrimage Award

Keneisha Charles, 2019 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient

In April 2019, I travelled to France and Belgium to experience First World War history with 19 youth from across Canada through the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. My expectations were trepidatious. I never truly connected with Canadian history. The experiences of Black and other racialized people are typically either ignored or offered as a fragmented side-note of incomplete trauma and superficial reconciliation. History was a confusing, bitter, and often painful subject for me.

The VPA helped me find a new meaning. As we toured monuments, museums, and cemeteries, I was able to see, touch, and feel the past. But most of all, I was able to do it through a lens of Blackness with Private Aubrey Mitchell and Private Vincent Carvery.

We’re not related, and they died over 100 years ago. But over the week, they became family.

War was for the White man. Yet these Black men chose to serve in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. I grappled to understand the racism, the trauma they endured, but most of all, the humanity they exhibited in the face of it all.

This was a journey. It was filled with laughter and new friendships, but also pain and vulnerability as I asked questions of myself and of history that I had never known to ask. And as I learned the stories of Aubrey and Vincent, I learned more about my own, too.

I come from a legacy of resilience. And though they may not talk about Canada’s Black Battalion in textbooks or films, I will always know their names and I will always remember the place in history they carved for me—a place that I will not let be taken away.

To my fellow participants, thank you for reminding me what community feels like. Thank you for letting me draw on your strength. Thank you for walking this journey alongside me.

To the chaperones and the Vimy Foundation, thank you for giving me the space to ask the questions I needed to ask and feel what I needed to feel.

And to Aubrey and Vincent. You give me strength. Strength to face a world that I sometimes feel wasn’t made for me. Strength to continue to make space for myself and others where there wasn’t before. Strength to be Black, despite any and every thing. I am so proud to have ancestors like you.

Endless love and gratitude.

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 10 April 2019

After an incredible week, our VPA 2019 students said their goodbyes and departed for home early this morning. For the last blog entry of this program, we asked our new Vimy Pilgrimage Award alumni to describe their experience in one line; read their thoughts here. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

The program provided a modern perspective to the First World War, as while the devastation of war was a prominent theme, topics of present day reconciliation were also addressed, which is not always the case in school.

— Navjot Kaur Khaira, Surrey BC

 

This experience completely transformed my perception of the First World War and truly taught me that this legacy is all of ours to remember.

— Keneisha Charles, Kelowna, BC

 

Le programme a dépassé mes attentes; nous avons eu la chance de partager des opportunités fantastiques avec 20 Canadiens qui viennent de partout au Canada et qui étaient gagnants du Prix du pèlerinage de Vimy.

— Brooke Glazier, North Vancouver, BC

 

This program has been such a life changing experience; I have learned and acquired more information in a week than any history class could ever teach me.

— Elizabeth Gagné, Regina, SK

 

Le programme m’a menée à porter un regard différent sur la Première Guerre mondiale et m’a permis de rencontrer des personnes exceptionnelles : cette expérience a été fantastique !

— Rosalie Gendron, Lévis, QC

 

Ce programme a été immensément amusant, et j’ai absolument adoré tous les monuments, cimetières et musées.

— Aidan Hupé, Whitehorse, Yukon

 

I was so honoured to be able to take part in this program- in which I was able to gain so many new perspectives about Canada and the First World War.

— Faith Emiry, Massey, Ontario

 

The program not only exceeded my expectations, but it opened my eyes to the atrocities of the first world war- especially the casualties from both sides.

— Declan Sander, Lethbridge, Alberta

 

During the Vimy Pilgrimage Award 2019 I learned so much about the First World War and I will never forget this experience- I can’t wait to share my stories about this amazing program with others.

— Gillian Huppee, Foam Lake, Saskatchewan

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award program creates the perfect learning environment for youth, welcoming them into an open environment that emphasizes remembrance and respect for the First World War and the people who served in it.

— David Pugh, Brantford, Ontario

 

This experience has been truly amazing; I now have a different perspective on the First World War and know that the legacy of the soldiers must be remembered by all so that their sacrifice was not in vain.

— Katie Clyburne, Halifax NS

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award has been everything I hoped for; learning about Canada, fostering a greater appreciation for the sacrifices made during the First World War, visiting important gravesites, and making new friends from across Canada – overall an experience I will never forget and will always cherish.

— Theo Thompson-Armstrong, Halifax NS

 

Through all the cemeteries, museums and monuments, I learned of the many social and cultural effects of the First World War and their effects on both Canadians and the rest of the world.

— Eric Weidmann Fort Saskatchewan, AB

 

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award helped me gain a deeper level of understanding on how to approach and analyze history; because we were taught how to think, not what to think.

— Joon Sohn, Surrey BC

 

I learned so much from this program including how to think critically and how to consider multiple perspectives of the First World War.

— Cassandra Gillen, Pointe-Claire QC

 

Reflecting on the week as a whole, I’ve grown drastically with my critically thinking skills as well as communication. To be there, on the battlefield where history took place 102 years ago adds a new sense of depth to my learning as well as my personal development.

— David He, Burnaby BC

 

What an experience that has changed my life forever; I am so pleased to have been chosen for the Vimy Pilgrimage Award so I can learn so many things about the First World War and now be able to teach people about my experience and about what these men truly went through during those four deadly years.

— Andrew Poirier, Haldimand County, ON

 

Comment décrire une expérience qui, en une semaine, nous fait développer des liens profonds avec des gens complètement inconnus, qui nous permet de comprendre la chance qu’on a d’être soi-même en 2019, qui fait énormément grandir et met un terme au passé sans jamais l’oublier et nous permet de continuer vers l’avant?

— Emma Roy, Ste-Sophie, QC

 

It was an experience of a lifetime as I was able to learn about the history of the First World War, commemorate those who fought for our freedom, and make friendships that will last forever.

— Stephanie Budden, Stephenville, NL

 

Participating in the Vimy Pilgrimage Award has taught me much more about not just the First World War but also its consequences, and it has greatly helped to shift my perspective on understanding the importance of international relations in the past, present, and future.

— Zachary Collins, Toronto, ON

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 9 April 2019

On the last day of the program, the VPA 2019 students visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, a very important and moving experience. The group visited the Vimy Education Centre, the new Vimy Centennial Park and participated in a ceremony commemorating the 102nd anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge where Aidan and Keneisha read the Commitment to Remember as Eric, Zach, and Rosalie laid a wreath. Later in the day, they visited the Maison Blanche underground tunnels and the Neuville St-Vaast German Cemetery. Read the students’ posts from Theo, Zachary, David He and Keneisha. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference.)

Today was an amazing day to finish the 2019 Vimy Pilgrimage. It started off with visiting the Memorial at Vimy Ridge, which has always promised to be one of the most spectacular sights of the program, and it did not disappoint. Many people who I spoke to before about their Vimy experiences said that seeing it can change your life, fill you with emotions, and overall profoundly impact you. I can now say this for myself, as today’s experience has been incredible. When we arrived, we took half an hour to experience the monument alone, undistracted by phones and people. During this time, I took time to reflect on why the monument is so incredible, and quickly realized it is not about the monument itself, but what is represents. 3,598 Canadian soldiers died on April 9, 1917 at Vimy, and 102 years later for so many young people to be in that very place, thinking about their sacrifice, is a testament that their memory will not be forgotten. Today near the end of the day I also had the most important part of the program for myself, which was visiting the grave of my relative Alfred Snow Churchill who died on April 9, 1917. I am one of very few, if not the first family member to visit his grave, and it is an experience I will always cherish.

Theo Thompson-Armstrong, Halifax NS

 

April 9. Vimy Day. The final day of the program. For myself, the day of my second, original soldier presentation. Private Fenton Brownell is the solider I wrote about in my application to the Award, and the soldier that helped to bring me here. After the Battle of Vimy Ridge Ceremony, we headed to a few cemeteries to finish up soldier presentations. Entering Nine Elms Military Cemetery in Pas-de-Calais, I could not help but feel slightly emotional as I knew that Brownell was now nearby. To see his grave, as well as that nearby of his brother, Charles, was a moment at which I realized I had been anticipating since I first found out that I would be heading to Europe. Detailing the life and death of Fenton and his brother, as well as another buried elsewhere, was something I can describe only as heartbreaking. I could never imagine losing two family members on the same day, and a third just months later. Reading aloud the fictional letter I wrote from Fenton’s mother to him, I felt my eyes water as I knew that while the situation I described may not have been a reality for the Brownell family, it surely occurred for many families affected by the Great War. I hope that by telling these stories and ensuring the legacies of soldiers are never forgotten, we can prevent such events from occurring again in the future.

Zachary Collins, Toronto ON

 

Today marked the 102nd anniversary of the start of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a battle that would go down in history, textbooks and even passports alike. The whole week that we were in Europe, we learned about the importance of this battle as well as the history, controversy and debates behind the First World War. For the events today, the ceremony seemed surreal. I’ve seen the ceremonies, the events all on TV but to be there in person with the armed forces, dignitaries and veterans, it was truly an amazing experience that I will not forget. It was also a great feeling to finally hear our tour guides speak with a Canadian accent! Standing there at the memorial, it felt Canadian. The mist, the fog in the air resembled what I would typically see in British Columbia. It felt like home. I always try to imagine and put myself in the shoes of those who’ve been through these battles and these experiences. I certainly felt as if I was at home, standing on top of the carefully carved stairs. Maybe, I imagine, those soldiers would feel the same. Across the Atlantic, maybe, the battles felt Canadian. At the end of the day, today was an experience and a time of reflection for myself as well as my peers. Sometimes, we need to feel as if we were home in order to fight a battle far from home.

David He, Burnaby, BC

 

Today was the pinnacle of the Vimy Pilgrimage program. Although I was aware of Vimy’s legendary status as the “birth of a nation”, I wasn’t expecting to be so profoundly affected by the sight of the monument.

It was like a living thing, rising out of the fog. Plaques read around the pillars: dates, battles, names. Distantly, a bell tolls.

As I stood there with these people I have mourned with, celebrated with, learned with over this past week, I was struck by the sudden realization that this is ours.

In a time where all of our First World War veterans have passed, this is our history to live or let die. The past is written here, in the stone and the grass— its trauma and its truth. How do we give that meaning? How do we reconcile past and present— present and future?

We remember.

We gather in a circle around a headstone in a cemetery along a dirt road and learn about a life now long gone. We stand in a trench and hold an umbrella over each other’s heads. We descend eight meters down and trace stone once touched by people we once knew.

We grow— together.

I didn’t realize how much I had grown until standing beside Mother Canada at the peak of the Vimy Memorial.

Before this journey, I did not believe that I had a place in Canadian history. Then I met Private Vincent Carvery and Private Aubrey Mitchell of the Canadian Expeditionary Force’s first and only Black battalion.

They created a space for me in history. They are the reason why later, I was honoured to present the Commitment of Remembrance at the ceremony. As I overlooked the audience, I felt a swell of pride to be here on equal ground representing their legacy. As I gazed at my fellow participants, each symbolically holding with them soldiers or nursing sisters, I felt the weight of all their legacies now on our shoulders.

I realized today that it’s not about the Battle of Vimy Ridge at all.

It’s about us.

The people we carry with us, the places we trace steps— the story that we are creating together.

This is the power of the Vimy memorial. 

Keneisha Charles, Kelowna, BC

Vimy Pilgrimage Award Blog – 8 April 2019

Still in France, our VPA 2019 recipients visited the Battle of Hill 70 Memorial and the Cabaret-Rouge Cemetery. In the afternoon, the students visited more sites including the French military cemetery Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, the Ring of Remembrance, and Cherisy. Read the students’ posts about their experiences. (Please note: participants will blog in their language of preference).

Aujourd’hui, nous sommes allés au Mémorial de la Côte 70. Je pense que ce monument était très intéressant à visiter parce que c’est un événement pas très connu. Le mémorial est dans un parc au nord de la France. Dans ce parc, il y avait un monument canadien qui a été créé cent ans après la guerre. La figure était située 70 mètres au-dessus du niveau de la mer pour représenter où la bataille était battue. Autour de ce monument, il y avait des petits détails qui représentent le Canada ; les feuilles d’érable et le drapeau du Canada étaient dessinés au sol.

Quand on était en devant du monument, nous avons parlé de l’efficacité du monument. Moi, je pense que ce monument est efficace en termes d’être respectueux aux soldats qui sont morts. Mais, je pense que par rapport aux informations pour le public, le monument n’est pas efficace. Toutes les informations que j’ai apprises sur le monument ont été grâce aux accompagnateurs et accompagnatrices du programme. Un des buts de ce monument est d’éduquer le public sur une bataille, mais l’héritage de la bataille ne peut pas être compris par la majorité des personnes. Je pense que ce monument a un grand potentiel d’être efficace pour la commémoration d’une bataille oubliée avec quelques changements de présentation pour le public.

Brooke Glazier, North Vancouver BC

 

580 000 – a number that can represent the population of a village, city, or in some cases an entire country. But that number also represents 580 000 brave young men who were loved brothers, fathers, and uncles, all with stories to tell. The Ring of Remembrance pays tribute to these soldiers and the unique memorial makes no distinction between their nationalities and rank. Standing on the platform at the entrance, I was surrounded by panels decorated with the names of fallen soldiers. With every step, more names came into focus and a flood of emotions washed over me. Feelings of sorrow and sympathy were prominent throughout the visit and stayed with me throughout the day. It was also at this memorial that I recognized the names of fallen Sikh soldiers, for the first time, which added a personal connection to the experience.

In addition to its ability to pay tribute those who sacrificed their life, the memorial extends to serve as a metaphor for the present day. Those who may have been enemies in past are now listed side by side, pointing to the trend of reconciliation between nations over the years. The Ring of Remembrance perfectly depicts the horrors of war but also illustrates humanity’s ability to move past tragedy, making it one of the most impactful sites I have visited during the program.

Navjot Kaur Khaira, Surrey BC

 

 

Today we visited the Bagneux British Cemetery where Emma presented a tribute for her nursing sister. Bagneux, as I later found out, happens to be one of the only cemeteries with headstones of Canadian nursing sisters. I felt this was a really important monument because the service and sacrifice of our nursing sisters are generally less well-known and perhaps, less appreciated. This is despite the fact that nursing sister also faced the same risks of death and injury as well as tough living conditions. When I checked the registers of cemeteries across the Western Front similar to this one, most were last signed around November 2018! The similar fact that 20 students from the homeland of nursing sisters travelled all the way to France to commemorate and honour the nursing sisters is actually really special. This cemetery may not have even seen 20 visitors this entire year! I am extremely grateful to have this privilege of doing so, and look forward to presenting the soldiers I’ve researched tomorrow.

Joon Hyeong Sohn, Surrey BC