Kudos for student Vimy Pilgrimage Award winners

Published on April 16, 2014
After the April 9 ceremony commemorating the 97th anniversary of the Battle of Arras at Vimy, France, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Julian Fantino was joined by Christopher Sweeney, president of the Vimy Foundation, guests, and the Canadian student winners of the 2014 Vimy Pilgrimage Award. They unveiled a sign indicating the future site of the visitor education centre.  Newfoundland and Labrador winners this year were Victoria Jackman (second row,  left) and Zachary LeShane (second row, fifth from right.) — Photo courtesy of Vincent Hughes, student guide, winter 2014 session)

A new poll released by the Vimy Foundation highlights the importance of engaging young Canadians to remember the defining moments in our nation’s history.

The poll found, for example, that while the vast majority of us are aware of Canada’s brilliant military victory at Vimy Ridge, those numbers start to drop off with younger Canadians.

That’s why I want to commend Victoria Jackman of Mount Pearl and Zachary LeShane of Lower Island Cove for taking up the challenge to remember and honour the service and sacrifice of the 100,000 Canadians who captured the strategic ridge at Vimy over four days in April 1917.

Victoria and Zachary were among 21 students selected by the Vimy Foundation to travel to France this past week as part of its annual Vimy Pilgrimage Award.

The award includes a week-long tour of local battlefields and memorials as part of an educational program to raise awareness about Canada’s role in the First World War.

I had the pleasure of meeting Victoria and Zachary at our international ceremony at Vimy Ridge on April 9, which marked the 97th anniversary of the battle where the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought side by side for the first time. The victory is still viewed by many as Canada’s coming of age as a nation.

With students such as Victoria and Zachary proud to honour our past, we can be confident that future generations of Canadians will keep the torch of Remembrance burning brightly.

Congratulations, Victoria and Zachary.

Julian Fantino

Minister of Veterans Affairs, Ottawa