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 – the Battle of Vimy Ridge, and to learn more about its significant role in the formation of our Canadian identity. Since 2010, the theme week, Vimy: Canada's Coming of Age, has been offered in conjunction with the Vimy Foundation. And it still continues to resonate with today’s youth, just as it did then.
Participants enjoyed a jam-packed week, including a VIP tour of Parliament Hill, research on WWI soldiers at the Library and Archives of Canada, the creation of a Vimy mural, and so much more. They were also invited to take part in the national commemorative ceremony on Vimy Ridge Day, April 9, at the National War Memorial. And as happens every year, Encounters with Canada participants had the honour of representing the youth of our nation. Two of our participants read the Commitment to Remember in both official languages, a very touching and inspirational moment for all present.
April 9, 2015, the 98th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, also coincided with the launch of the 2015 National Sentry Program, as the first sentries were posted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the National War Memorial. This took on an added significance this year, given the events of last October 22nd. Indeed, these two events demonstrate our national commitment to remember and honour all who have served Canada, and have contributed to Canada’s long-standing tradition of military excellence through to the present day.
Offered for the fifth consecutive year, Vimy week has also taken on even more significance in the history and lore of the Encounters with Canada program, with the celebration of its 100,000th participant, Alexandra Macdonald, from Salt Spring Island, BC. Furthermore, Vimy week participants were eligible to win the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize – a two-week, all expenses paid scholarship program in Europe to study the First and Second World Wars! The winner this year was Josanna Hickey from Bathurst, NB.
In short, this extraordinary week gave our participants the opportunity to be part of a momentous occasion, to honour Canada’s military history, to forge friendships with youth from across the country, and to bring home memories of a lifetime.