June 6 will mark the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings and the Battle of Normandy.
To celebrate the occasion, the Juno Beach Centre is sponsoring a number of lucky high school students from across Canada to participate in the “Juno75 Student Pilgrimage,” a tour of war memorial sites in Belgium and northern France.
The 12-day tour, from July 3 to July 14, will visit Canadian battlefields at Vimy Ridge, Beaumont-Hamel, Dieppe, the D-Day landing beaches.
The tour will give the participating students a tangible sense of Canada’s role in the First and Second World Wars, taking them to the Canadian War Cemeteries of Beny-Sur-Mer, Bretteville-sur-Laize, Abbaye d’Ardenne, the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and the city of Ypres in Belgium, to the Juno Beach Centre and other sites.
A military historian, Juno Beach Centre staff and Canadian educators will accompany the students to Europe, offering them a unique educational experience, taking what the students learn at school and connecting that information with the actual places where these historical events unfolded.
Joel Beaudoin, a Grade 11 student at Ecole Heritage is among the lucky students to have his application accepted for the War Memorials tour.
“I had to write a letter and do a project about why I thought I was a good candidate,” says Beaudoin. “I also had to provide letters of recommendation from two people in the community.”
Beaudoin is the only student from Ecole Heritage and the immediate region chosen for the trip.
“I am the only kid from this school but I think there are about 15 to twenty kids from across Canada and five other kids from Alberta.”
The kids chosen have to raise a $1000 towards the trip, which for 12 days in Europe is still an extremely good deal.
“I have never been to Europe before so this is going to be pretty cool, the first time so I’m pretty excited,” says Beaudoin.
The students from Alberta fly from Edmonton to Montreal where they will join the other Canadian students and will then fly from Montreal to Belgium.
Since its inception in 2003, the Juno Beach Centre has enthusiastically pursued community outreach and the participants on this particular tour will, along with visiting war memorials and historic sites, have the opportunity to experience Belgian and French culture and hospitality.