Dancers from Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton get set to perform during an event celebrating the 100th anniversary of the famous First World War battle at Vimy Ridge in France.
Technology brings students together for anniversary event
The Battle of Vimy Ridge will be forever remembered as one of Canada’s defining moments. At 5:30 a.m. that day — April 9, 1917 — all four divisions of the Canadian Corps acted as one, attacking the Germans at Vimy Ridge, a strategic and heavily defended hill in the French countryside where all earlier Allied attacks had been successfully resisted.
Over the next several days, nearly 3,600 Canadian soldiers died, but the mission was ultimately successful. The Canadians took the ridge.
Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton hosted an event on April 6 in honour of the 100th anniversary of the battle.
“Today was a way to remember all that has happened for our country and for everything that Canada stands for,” said Grade 12 Vimy Ridge student Erika Hurl, the event’s MC.
More than 10,000 students across Canada participated in the event via live-streaming. The event included poetry and dance, speeches, a student video and live interviews. Participating dignitaries included Lt.-Gov. Lois Mitchell and retired lieutenant-general Roméo Dallaire.
Hurl said the ceremony was a way to have students recognize just how big an event they were commemorating, and how important the battle was to Canadian history.
“It is significant because it is what our school is named after. We make sure people know what our school stands for and what it is about because that is the importance,” she said. “If we don’t recognize the things that happened in our history, then we don’t know how to change for the future.”
Terry Godwaldt, a teacher who is the executive director of the Senate of Global Education, which helped organize the event, was proud of the student initiative that made the live-stream possible.
"Today was a way to remember all that has happened for
our country and for everything that Canada stands for."
– Erika Hurl, Grade 12
Vimy Ridge Academy student
“Hopefully, the students came away with something special,” he said.
“For us to be able to come together as a nation of students and young people around something as powerful as Vimy Ridge, is what schools can and should be about, not just a textbook, but about people, and about connections and about life.”
Academy student Joshua Hidson and teacher Graham Fleming participated in the live-stream from Vimy Ridge in France, which they were visiting in order to attend the official 100th anniversary ceremony on April 9.
The pair shared a video they had created about their experiences so far.
Hidson’s mother, Cecily Hidson, as well as his grandparents, attended the event at the academy.
“It was a phenomenal opportunity … he was really excited to be able to participate in the experience,” she said. “He is very academic, and I hope that he takes away … not only about learning more of the history, but the sacrifice Canadians made and take that to heart and carry it forward in his life.” ❚