7 Leaside High School students pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge

Seven students from Leaside High School under the guidance of teacher Caralin Fleet have made the pilgrimage to Vimy Ridge and stood where nearly 4,000 Canadian soldiers died. The students are Weadee Mombo, Victoria Whalen, James Le Noury, Harley Smyth, Grace Landry, Lauryn Watters and Weajue Mombo. Their thrilling opportunity to join 25,000 other Canadians at this sacred place in the nation’s history was part of a Canada-wide excursion planned by EF Tours and sanctioned by LHS. The trip has been the kind of mind-broadening and no doubt dizzying experience that young people feel when they travel so far from home

EACH STUDENT RESEARCHED A SOLDIER

It began with the LHS group touching down in Paris and traveling to Vimy for three days. From there Ms. Fleet’s tour heads to Amsterdam and Berlin. “In each city, we’ve been seeing various sites of historical significance, primarily relating to both World Wars (and some other history in Paris as well)” the LHS teacher told The South Bayview Bulldog by email. “To increase the personal connection, each school was paired with a cemetery in France. Ours was the Nine Elms Military Cemetery in Thelus. Each of my students chose a soldier to research, and then they brought Canadian flags to place at their graves. Yesterday, of course, was the big event at Vimy with 25,000 in attendance, including about 12,000 Canadian students. The kids really found it moving.” said the teacher. See Leaside Vimy Ridge Facebook

STUDENT REFLECTIONS

Weadee Mombo
Since there are no remaining soldiers from the First World War, it so important that Canadian youth remember what took place at Vimy. The men that fought that day; both anglophone and francophone alike came together with pride and united a nation. If we could all come together as they did 100 years ago, we would accomplish things we never could divided.

Victoria Whalen
Even the thought of being at Vimy was special in and of itself, however the actual experience I can’t really put into words! Just being there as a Canadian remembering our fallen soldiers on the 100th anniversary was once in a lifetime It’s so important that kids travel and get out there to be more aware of their surroundings, as that’s definitely what’s happened to us during our trip to Vimy Ridge!

James Le Noury
What an experience, to be there with my 25000 fellow Canadians there to witness the 100th anniversary of Canada’s coming of age. What a patriotic feeling it was to hear everyone shouting out the lyrics to Oh Canada and to hear the roar of our jets over the crowd. Overall yesterday was a very moving and inspirational experience.

Harley Smyth
My experience at Vimy yesterday was incredible and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. My favourite moment was when the Canadian national anthem was playing and all 25 000 Canadians were singing. It was an incredible experience. I felt very lucky to be able to attend and very proud to be Canadian. It was unforgettable.

Grace Landry
When we’re learning about the events in WW1 and specifically at Vimy Ridge in class, it never felt real; it was just a bunch of words on pages. Actually being there and standing in the same spot thousands of Canadian soldiers previously stood was life changing. There are no living soldiers who fought at Vimy Ridge remaining. It is so important that future generations continue to remember their sacrifice to ensure no events like the ones that took place during WW1 ever happen again. Just being there with thousands of Canadians made me realize how lucky we are that we’re here and if it wasn’t for those soldiers Canada wouldn’t be the same. It was an experience of a lifetime that I will never forget.

Lauryn Watters
Vimy Ridge was an experience like I’ve never had before. Being there with Canadians from all over the country celebrating different elements of our culture at such an important and proud moment in our history made me feel so proud to be Canadian. It also made the history so much more real. Seeing the names of all the fallen soldiers on the monument and all the cemeteries in the surrounding area really helped show how devastating this event was. I think it’s important that youth see this to help better understand the consequences of war so that we can work to prevent similar events in the future.

Weajue Mombo
Living in Canada, we tend to feel distant from the horrors of war, but that is definitely not the case in France. Being here, especially in the Vimy region, the war continues to be present everywhere. We can see the craters left from the bombs, walk through the trenches, and visit the graves of Canadian soldiers. Standing at the Vimy memorial service along with thousands of Canadians made me remember how proud we should all be of the history we have.

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