A group of 40 Sacred Heart High School students are on their way to Europe April 19 on a Canadian battlefield tour.
The tour will take the kids, 15 of whom have familial connections to World War I and II, from Amsterdam through the Vimy, Normandy and Dieppe regions where Canadian soldiers fought and died, and wind up in Paris.
Michaela Adam had a family member in each of the great wars.
“My great uncle died in World War I and his body wasn’t found so that’s why name is on the Menin Gate,” she said. The Menin Gate is a war memorial in Ypres, Belgium dedicated to British and Commonwealth soldiers killed there whose graves are unknown.
Adam’s grandfather served in the second war as a prison guard. She recalls him fondly.
“He was very happy and he was a very nice person to be around and he was very calm, you felt comfortable with him,” she said.
He didn’t talk much about the war.
“Because it was so traumatic for him, he just didn’t want to relive it,” Michaela said.
Kelsey Woloschuk, whose grandfather also served in World War II, but died before she was born believes it is important for Canadians to know their history.
“It’s important to remember World War II because those were our ancestors and family that went over there to fight,” she said. “It’s just important to remember what our country and what our family has done to help save us and make what Canada what it is today. It gave Canada a good name for being able to go out and help, but also make it more unified as a country. We do have power and we are able to put ourselves out there to those in need when they need it.”
The tour is organized by EF educational tours and touches on some very significant sites, such as the Anne Frank House, Passchendaele, Flanders Fields, Vimy Ridge and Juno Beach, but the kids will also have some free time.
Kennedy Gagne, who is half French and speaks the language wanted to go on the trip partially to discover her roots.
“I’m looking forward to being able to speak my language in a different country,” she said. “I’m excited to be able to explore my culture, food and stuff like that that are different from Canada.”
The SHHS Travel Club does a trip annually led by teacher Perry Enns. Students pay their own way through fundraising or working part-time and/or summer jobs. Last year a group, which included Woloschuk and Gagner, went to China.
“It was such an amazing experience,” Gagne said. “People say it’s life changing and you don’t believe them, but then you go and it really is.”