Tag Archives: Netherlands

Vimy 2017 here we come!

It was Canada from the Atlantic to the Pacific on parade. I thought then… that in those few minutes I witnessed the birth of a nation-Brigadier General Alexander Ross, Commander, 28th Battalion, CEF April 9th, 1917

So here we are, less than 48 hours away from a great journey. The excitement, and anxiety, is palpable. On Wednesday, 23 students and 3 teachers from St. Patrick will be departing for an 11-day trip to Europe, the highlight of which will be participation in the 100th anniversary commemoration of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

The last week has been insanely busy for all involved; all the last minute planning and meetings tend to be very stressful. On top of that, we have had a lot of media attention on what will be a once in a lifetime trip. On Friday, March 31st, local MPs Patty Hajdu and Don Rusnak came by the school to present travellers from both St. Patrick and St. Ignatius will small gifts for the journey. Also present was Lieutenant-Colonel David Ratz, who is the commanding officer of the Lake Superior Scottish Regiment (LSSR). Our students will be visiting graves of soldiers from the 52nd Battalion and the Lake Superior Regiment in Europe, units that are perpetuated by the LSSR today. You can read more about the media conference on TBNewswatch, CBC and the TBT News.

MPs Hajdu and Rusnak visit students from St. Patrick & St. Ignatius, March 2017.

All of the travellers will come home with many great memories from the trip. They will also take home many physical reminders as well. Anyone who visits Vimy Ridge is presented with the Vimy Pilgrimage Medal, which honours not only the sacrifice of those that fought there, but also those who have travelled to pay tribute to the fallen. The medal features the central image of the Vimy Memorial, which is the Spirit of Canada, or Mother Canada, weeping for her fallen sons. The ribbon bears the colors of the 4 Canadian Divisions who fought together at Vimy for the first time; red for the 1st Division, blue for the 2nd Division, grey for the 3rd Division and green for the 4th Division.

Vimy Pilgrimage Medal

Wifi permitting, we will be posting a day-by-day account of our journey on this site. Please follow us as we weave our way through the Netherlands, Belgium and France on this one-in-lifetime journey.

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The Latest-April 2014

Two things fill the mind with ever new and increasing admiration and awe, the more often and steadily we reflect upon them: the starry heavens above me and the moral law within me-Immanuel Kant.

So March has come and gone and we have now entered the homeward stretch of 2013-2014. “Spring” is upon us and as the weather “warms” we look forward to June and the conclusion of another successful school year.

Even with the interruption of the break, March was a very busy month in the department. On the 6th we welcomed a very special guest to the school. Max Eisen now calls Toronto home, but the 85 year old was born in Hungary. In the spring of 1944 Eisen and his entire family were rounded up by the Nazis and sent to the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp where most of them perished. Surviving the horrors of the Holocaust, Eisen was liberated in 1945 and now travels North America speaking about his experiences to young people. We were very honoured by his visit and kudos go out to Ms. Caza for her efforts in making this happen.

Max Eisen, March 2014.

Max Eisen, March 2014.

 

Max with , March 2014.

Max with Jaclyn and Denise, March 2014.

Under the direction of Ms. Hallarn and Ms. Bernardi, our Grade 9 geography students paid a visit to Fort William Historical Park on the 18th and 20th for some “hands on” learning. The day began with a GPS activity, where students were required to locate several geocaches hidden inside the palisades. Afterwards, everyone moved inside for some lessons on Ethnobotany, which emphasized the relationship between First Nations people and plants such as sweet grass and leaves.

GPS activities, March 2014.

GPS activities, March 2014.

Hunting for geocaches, March 2014.

Hunting for geocaches, March 2014.

Group shot, March 2014.

Group shot, March 2014.

The March break was very memorable for the 22 students and 3 teachers involved in the Canada’s Battlefields excursion to Europe. The excitement began even before we boarded the plane, as the local media showed up to get our reactions to the trip. The online article and the TV news segment really helped to publicize the trip to the community. The students did a great job speaking about the purpose of our journey.

It was the trip of a lifetime for many and the weather cooperated as well, with temperatures pushing near or over 20C on several days. The journey was a mix of fun and excitement, coupled with moments of remembrance and reflection. Places such as Amsterdam, Normandy and Paris offered opportunities for the students to experience the culture of Europe. Anne Frank House and the Jewish Museum were windows into the tragedy of the Holocaust. Visits to the battlefields of Ypres, the Somme, Vimy Ridge, Dieppe and Juno Beach allowed us to see firsthand the places were our soldiers fought bravely in the name of freedom; at the cemeteries we paid tribute to the sacrifices of many young Canadians.

 

St. Ignatius and St. Patrick pray at the Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, March 2014.

St. Ignatius and St. Patrick pray at the Bergen-op-Zoom Canadian War Cemetery, March 2014.

On the steps of the Vimy Memorial, March 2014.

On the steps of the Vimy Memorial, March 2014.

In front of the Eiffel Tower, March 2014.

In front of the Eiffel Tower, March 2014.

Preliminary planning has already begun to participate in the 100th Anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in 2017. For more information and photos of the Battlefields Tour, please read our previous posts. You can also see some of the video from the trip here.

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Canada’s Battlefields 2014

So here we are. At this time tomorrow we will be on our way to Europe for this fantastic trip. For many of the students, this is the trip of a lifetime; for some, this is their first time on a plane! The excitement is so intense it is palpable.

When we began this process back in September 2012, we were some 550 days away from departure. Now we are down to mere hours. It has been quite the journey for us in the planning process.

This trip is about students “touching” history and experiencing it firsthand. However, it is also about remembrance; students honouring the sacrifice that was made by Canadian soldiers in the two world wars. It is fitting that this year is the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, the 75th anniversary of the start of World War II and the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. Marking these important milestones in Europe will certainly add to historical feel of the trip.

Internet connection permitting, we will be posting an account of our adventure on a daily basis. These posts will be re-blogs from Mr. Battistel’s personal site. Make sure you check back every day. Next stop Amsterdam!

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