On April 9, 2015 – Vimy Day – Encounters with Canada proudly celebrated its 100,000th participant - Alexandra Macdonald from Salt Spring Island, BC. and, as with all important milestones, Encounters celebrated this historic one with a bang!
Many distinguished guests were in attendance at the celebrations, including Historica Canada (HC) President Anthony Wilson-Smith, HC board member and Chair Emeritus Avie Bennett, Member of Parliament for Ottawa-Vanier (EWC’s constituency) Mauril Bélanger, and Vimy Foundation President David Houghton and Executive Director Jeremy Diamond. Warming up the crowd with his charismatic presence and great eloquence, retired Senior Citizenship Judge George Springate was the Master of Ceremonies. He was accompanied by RCMP Sgt. (ret’d) Michel Pelletier in his red serge, which added a certain festive panache to mark the occasion.
A beaming Director General Linda Brunet greeted participants and guests, and set the stage for this important event, by introducing Mr. Avie Bennett to the audience: “It is most fitting to have Mr. Bennett here with us today. For those of you who don’t know, when Encounters with Canada opened in 1982, it was originally a program of the Canadian Unity Council. When the Council closed in 2006, Encounters’ very existence was threatened. Fortunately, the Historica Foundation, an organization which is devoted to enhancing awareness of Canadian history and citizenship, and of which Mr. Bennett is a board member, agreed to purchase EWC and add it to its roster of quality programs. Indeed, it was the intersession of Mr. Bennett on our behalf that was critical to the Encounters’ program being purchased by The Historica Foundation of Canada,” she added with much pride in her voice. “It was due to his strong support and efforts that Encounters with Canada continues to grow and flourish to this day.”
EWC’s 100,000th participant received a very special gift to mark the occasion - an iPad Air 2 in a specially embossed case with EWC’s logo and a keyboard enclosed. Not to be outdone, all participants and guests received a portable Bluetooth speaker to use with their cell phones, iPods, and other devices. The event closed with the official cake-cutting to mark this important organizational milestone.
It was a very joyous occasion for all – most particularly for the Vimy participants, a theme week organized in conjunction with The Vimy Foundation. From April 5 to 11, 2015, 117 young Canadians, aged 14 to 17, from every corner of the country, travelled to Ottawa to recognize this great achievement in Canadian history and to learn more about the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to our Canadian identity.
And now, with the support of its dear partners, sponsors, volunteers and friends, Encounters with Canada is looking to the future with great enthusiasm, ready to greet its next 100,000 participants!