Twelve students along with their chaperones from École Pointe-des-Chênes in Ste. Anne have just returned from a Canadian Battlefields tour. While on the tour, they were able to walk in the trenches and see the beaches where Canadian soldiers fought 100 years ago.
Sunday, April 9, 2017, marks the anniversary of the Battle at Vimy Ridge in France, during the first World War.
Highschool teacher Richard Verrier, says he usually offers students three options before planning a trip. "The kids chose this one, and I was a little apprehensive at first because it's not a tour where you see the big sites like Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and the Eiffel Tower, stuff like that."
The tour took the group through Belguim and France, after a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. Verrier says, "The kids had all read the book in grade 5, and were quite curious to see the house and the bookcase where they hid behind. It was a great experience and nice to start off with."
Verrier says as the tour progressed, the group visited Canadian war museums and cemeteries, as well as sites where the battles took place. They included Passendale, Vimy Ridge, Canadian War Museums, as well and Flanders Field.
Nikita Dornez, a grade 12 student, says for her, this was a tour of a lifetime. "To walk the trenches our Canadian soldiers hid in in World War 1 was breathtaking, it was something I couldn't even imagine. To see the actual craters, and walking in the bunkers was something else. Hearing the numbers is nothing compared to walking by all of those graves. Hundreds and thousands of graves, it was really something."
Grade 12 student Braeden McGowan, says the Last Post Ceremony was also a highlight of the trip. "It was breathtaking to see what our soldiers went through on the battlefields. It was sad in some parts knowing that not all of the soldiers made it. It really changed what I think about Remembrance Day. When we see a Remembrance Day ceremony in the gym, we don't really think about what actually happened. To actually walk the battlefields and see everything, it really changed my perspective."
Verrier adds, "We visited all the sites the kids hear about on Remembrance Day, to be walking along those, it really came to life, and it really hit home.You could see it in their hearts, and for me it was the biggest thing, seeing their heart strings get pulled. It was a tremendous trip.”
(Photo credit: Richard Verrier)