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Jam-packed week of Remembrance activities at Encounters with Canada
An “unforgettable experience” is how the 140 participants summarized this week. And without a doubt, it was. “I had an amazing time being able to meet people my age from all across the country, and the numerous workshops really increased my knowledge of war and Canada’s military history,” wrote Marina Antoniou from Surrey, British Columbia. “One of my favourite workshops was going to the Canadian War Museum, where I got to research Canadian soldiers and learn about them using original files.”
Each year, one of the most moving theme weeks for our participants is that of Canada Remembers. This year’s events and activities were no less spectacular, with EWC Program Director Francine Jobin and her team outdoing themselves, once again, in bringing it about with the assistance of Veterans Affairs Canada personnel.
The week’s activities saw participants take part in a candlelight ceremony and the national Remembrance Day Ceremony at the War Memorial in Ottawa, the fly-past, the twenty-one gun salute, visits to the War Museum and Parliament, speeches by military men and women, many hands-on workshops and the opportunity to speak with Canadian veterans.
But the highlight of the week was sharing a wartime lunch with Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney at the Terry Fox Canadian Youth Centre, with veterans present as distinguished guests. Minister Blaney addressed the participants, explaining his role and responsibilities as a new minister. He then put them to the test, asking questions about their knowledge of Canadian war history. He also congratulated them on their commitment to remembrance: “It is through you and other young people from across Canada that the sacrifices and achievements of all those who have served our country will stay alive.”
The lunch of pea soup, meat loaf and bread pudding, representative of World War II fare for average Canadians during this time, has become a tradition over the years. But it was sitting with Canadian veterans that was most moving to participants. “It was an amazing opportunity for me to be able to meet with veterans at that lunch – I can’t even begin to describe the feelings I had when a veteran’s eyes welled up as I thanked him for his service,” recounted Amanda Rundle, from Summerside, Prince Edward Island.
Said Minister Blaney of the day: “Our government is proud to support programs that engage youth in remembrance and help them learn about the sacrifices and contributions of our veterans”…to which Encounters with Canada Director General Linda Brunet replied: “We are thankful to Veterans Affairs Canada for their continued support to Encounters and to our participants. These young Canadians return to their communities with a much better understanding and spread the word of why it is so important to remember what veterans have given to their country.”