Bringing them Home

The 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipients were scheduled to travel to the historic First World War sites of Belgium and France from April 2 to 10, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational program has been postponed to a later date to be confirmed. The 2020 program recipients have researched and written tributes to Canadian military personnel of the Great War. This page has quotes from the students’ tributes written in their language of preference. It will be updated with links to the full tributes.

 

Hudson Bosch, Barrie, ON
D’Arcy Jardine Reynolds, Orr Lake, ON

So what I would like to say on behalf of all Canadians, Ontarians, and Simcoe Countians, is thank you, merci. Despite a short lived one, what you managed to accomplish in your lifetime is outstanding – your sacrifices are never going to be repayable. Now we hope you may rest in peace, here at Vimy Ridge, a part of the Canadian identity, remembered by all as a friend, a son, a brother, a constable, a soldier, a hero.

 

Spencer Bubis, Winnipeg, MB
Private Samuel Waskey, Winnipeg, MB

Your sister said you promised that you would play duets together when you returned home from Europe, you on the violin and she on the piano. I like to imagine how beautiful your duets would have been.

 

Coralie Bureau, Victoriaville, QC
Eugène Auger, Victoriaville, QC

Sa vie, 100 ans plus tard, signifie pour moi un exemple de bravoure et de fiabilité. Eugène Auger s’est enrôlé pour combattre au front et il l’a fait. Il a respecté son engagement malgré la peur au ventre qu’il ressentait probablement lors de cette guerre.

His life, 100 years later, is for me an example of bravery and reliability. Eugene Auger enlisted to fight on the front, and so he did. He lived up to his commitment despite the fact that he was probably filled with fear during the war.

Read Bureau’s full tribute here.

 

Charles-Édouard Corgier, Lachine QC
Soldat de 1re classe Napoléon-Joseph Renaud, Saint-Léonard-de-Port-Maurice, QC

S’engager à combattre au nom de son pays c’est déjà quelque chose d’impressionnant, mais quelle histoire curieuse que celle de ce soldat qui décida de s’engager dans la légion étrangère française et d’aller au front.

 

Una Chang, Surrey, BC
Eden Lyal Pringle, Vancouver, BC 

J’ai trouvé que des similitudes entre nous deux se trouvent au-delà de la surface. Comme vous, j’aspire à aider les autres dans le besoin. Comme vous, j’ai une passion pour les sciences. Comme vous, je veux prendre position pour une cause plus grande que moi. J’espère soutenir les autres dans le besoin en devenant infirmière.

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.

Read Chang’s full tribute here.

 

Daphné Dupuis, Sault Ste Marie, ON
Private George Philip Dupuis

You had 3 little sisters, you were their big brother; my brother is 20 and so were you. You once wrote,  “You should see the gas victims; say! it is enough to turn one from war,” and yet it only made you more eager to protect them and serve your country. It made you more willing to sacrifice your life at only 20, an act of bravery I can never repay but am infinitely grateful for. I cannot imagine leaving for war at such a young age when your life was merely beginning, but you did. And, you died the noblest of deaths.

 

Alexandra Elmslie, Guelph, ON
John McCrae, Guelph, ON

As a soldier, you voluntarily risked your own life to better the lives of others; as a surgeon, you devoted years of time towards other’s well-being; as a writer, you touched the lives of others with your prose and poetry. Your selflessness and compassion are exceptional and have inspired countless lives, including my own.

 

Nahira Gerster-Sim, Vancouver, BC
Grant Jennings, Port Stanley, ON

Addressed to wife Gladys Jennings:
His actions and the actions of many other soldiers has inspired me to continue the legacy. It’s my job to preserve the country he died for. I am a youth and environmental activist, and I can promise to make the choice everyday to work towards a sustainable country, and an equal future.

 

Elliott Grondin, Granby, QC
George Denison Miner, Granby, QC

Quelle fut ta dernière pensée ? 
Quels sont les derniers mots que tu as prononcés ? 
Quel étaient tes derniers vœux ? 
As-tu prié pour ce fameux cessé-le-feux ? 

I asked you if someone remembered you 
Now they know what you’ve been through 
Now they know your truth 
Now they know that you gave your youth

 

Karen Guan, North York, ON
Laura Adelaide Gamble, Wakefield, Wright, QC

Written from Gamble’s perspective:
In times like this, I only want the best for our country, so I work for itself. In spite of all the bad, I see the miracle and faith that lies within our efforts. 

 

Sana Hashmat, Fredericton, NB
Major John Hales Sweet, Dalhousie, NB

You were embalmed in history as a great soldier but did you want to be remembered as such postmortem? Or did you want to die in a moment of peace, a moment that could last forever as you drift off like winter into a long, cold slumber.

 

Katie Kanters, Amaranth, ON
Reginald Frank Maples, Mono Mills, ON

I just hope that before you passed you got to experience the love you deserved to have. I don’t know if its the fact that we grew up in the same town or that you passed at an age not much older than mine, but I have become very emotionally invested in your story. 

 

Linda Kemigisha, Edmonton, AB
Benjamin Avery, Edmonton, AB

You are still living, an echo in our recollection. You have not been forgotten and I wish you never will be. You have made a long journey and seen many things. From Ontario, to Saskatchewan, to Edmonton, to Europe, to where you are now. I pray you rest in peace forevermore.

 

Anna Kouao, Vankleek Hill, ON
Howard James McLaurin, Vankleek Hill, ON

Vankleek Hill. To most, this name might just be the Gingerbread capital of Ontario or an average small farming town. To you and me, it is so much more than that. A town like our has character, a town like ours has warmth, energy, a sense of community.

 

Anuj Krishnan, Edmonton, AB
George Mason Lavell, Strathcona, AB

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”.

Read Krishnan’s full tribute here.

Ripdaman Malhans, Delta, BC
Buckam Singh, Toronto, ON

At the age of fourteen you left your family to travel to a foreign land with a dream to build a new life despite knowing the lack of equality at the time. Yet you served for the rights and dignity of the very people that shunned you. There may be little of mention of you in history but you stand tall among those who fought and died for freedom. You are a true example of selfless sacrifice, one of the basic tenants of our faith.

 

Madison Moran, Brockville, ON
Private Harold Albert Henry, Peterborough, ON

I look at my life, I think that you should have had something like it. You shouldn’t have had to grow up so quickly, you shouldn’t have had to take on a responsibility that stole your childhood, but you did, and you did it with pride.

 

Alexina Nault, Winnipeg, MB
William Black MacKissock, Winnipeg, MB

My reflection is in the form of a song that I would like to play on my bagpipes for my presentation of my repatriation.

 

Charlotte Schwartz, Ottawa, ON
Joseph Darney Adams, Ottawa, ON

Humanity and grace were in your willful hands,
the weight of life on your shoulders,
the threat of annihilation in your mind,
even still, you pushed forth. 

 

Nazanin Soghrati, Richmond Hill, ON
Arthur Charles Cooper, Richmond Hill, ON

I close my eyes on tired days,
In the rare moments of quiet among the trees 
and I wonder what you thought as you walked up to enlist.
You were only twenty-three years old. A meager six years of difference, but a world apart.