I’m an Encounters with Canada alumni which gave me the opportunity to be selected to participate along with 25 other youth delegates from across Canada in a week of ceremonies in France to recognize the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. I am very grateful to Veterans Affairs Canada for making it all possible. In particular, I appreciated the veterans who participated and felt honoured to listen to their stories. While I was there, I was surprised by how moved the veterans were by how many youth are interested in hearing what they have to share; some of them were so touched when we asked questions about their experiences and their medals, that they would grab our hands and start to cry.
The experience of the learning we did at museums, first world war sites and cemeteries will last me for my life time and I will do my part to pass on what I have learned to future generations. It is important to learn about and commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and to remember the fallen soldiers, and respect those who sacrificed so much for us to live in a peace respecting country that is committed to freedom. During the trip, I had a few interviews with the media like a big news channel in France and Radio Canada for example, because I am able to speak French, I’m from the North (which was of interest to the reporters) and I have a relative that fought at the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Orman Almerin Nash is my great great uncle. I saw his name inscribed in the Vimy Ridge monument. He fought there and survived but died two weeks later at the Battle of Arleux. He was was my age when he fought in battle and I am conscious that he left behind a future full of opportunity in those fields I saw and walked over. It was strange how peaceful and green the places of those battles in the Northwest of France and the east of Belgium are now when one hundred years ago, they were anything but that.
-written by SJF student Emily Sabourin