It has been 18 months in the making, but on Thursday, April 6, forty-two students from Hammarskjold High School will leave to participate in the Centenary Commemorative Ceremony at the Vimy Ridge Memorial Site in France on Sunday April 9th. Canadian patriots, historians, proud citizens will be focused on the ceremony on televisions and electronic devices across our great Nation and this group, one of three groups from Thunder Bay, will be there!
The Battle of Vimy Ridge is suggested by many to be the place where Canada came of age as a Nation. It was the Battle that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps, made up of soldiers from coast to coast, would fight together for the first time, unifying our young Country, and earning the respect of other nations.
“I’ve taken students on student travel trips before, but never this historic, and never this important to our Canadian Heritage,” says Jason Timko, Hammarskjold High School Geography Teacher and Trip Chaperone.
Students have been busy preparing for the trip by doing a Soldier Pairing Activity so they can actually visit a specific soldiers grave site at the Railway Dugouts Burial Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium. The Railway Dugouts (also known as the Transport Farm) will be one of two cemeteries the Group will visit when on Tour. The other cemetery, The Beny-Sur-Mer Cemetery, is a Canadian World War II cemetery.
Hammarskjold will also be visiting the Beaumont Hamel War Memorial, an important dedication to fallen Newfoundland Soldiers from World War I.
“Sure, we teach it in our Canadian History Classes, which is “talking the talk”, but what EF Tours is offering us here is the opportunity to “walk the walk” said Terry Trewin, Canadian History Teacher, about what the students would experience from a trip like this.
This “Tour of Remembrance” will also include stops in Normandy, France to visit the newly opened Juno Beach Centre and Juno Beach, where Canadian Soldiers landed on D-Day during World War2. The group will stay in the important World War II city of Caen, almost completely rebuilt after it was 80% destroyed during the 1944 Battle of Normandy.
“To be there, to know where it happened, and what happened is something the students and the leaders will always remember and never forget. It is a once in a lifetime experience, truly,” says Linda Grassia, French Immersion History Teacher
Students will also have the opportunity to visit a few larger cities on their tour – Amsterdam, Paris, and London. It will be a tour packed with Culture and a focus on Remembrance.
“The notion that students discover the world through culturally immersive educational travel is the part of the EF Tours mandate that I totally agree with – they truly are Education First!” states Timko, Group Leader, on why EF Tours was chosen as the Tour Company to travel with. “This tour is designed for a renewal of remembrance. It will surely be, an experience that each participant will never forget.”