Tribute to Katherine Maud MacDonald

As a part of the 2018 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, Jeriann Hsiao wrote a tribute to Nursing Sister Katherine Maud MacDonald, the first Canadian nurse killed in action during the First World War. Hsiao was the first of our pilgrimage participants to choose to pay homage to a Nursing Sister. Read the tribute below.

Dear Katherine,

Brantford has changed so much since you left. I thought this letter was the perfect opportunity to update you. 

Can you believe that Brantford, Brant County, and Six Nations had the highest per capita enlistment rate in the Great War? I was shocked when I heard that! I thought Brantford was the most boring town ever. You see, Brantford is no longer the economic powerhouse it was back in your day. Demand dropped, businesses left, and the city fell apart. But we have started to regain our footing, and I believe remembering our history will play a huge role in the revival of our hometown. 

The biggest testament to our history is the cenotaph across from the armoury. It was designed by Walter Allward, who later designed the Canadian National Vimy Memorial! How cool is it that the same architect of the memorial commemorating the most significant Canadian victory in the entire war also constructed a memorial for Brantford? I visited the cenotaph recently so I could take a picture to show everyone participating in the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. And there it was – your name for all to see!

Of course, I can’t forget to mention our high school, Brantford Collegiate Institute. I walk by the plaque and portraits commemorating you and the school’s other alumni who were killed in the First World War almost daily. It’s very special that current students can remember our past students so easily. On Remembrance Day, the Grade 10 Laurier class organizes and presents a Remembrance Day assembly to the entire school. I was part of the assembly when I was in Grade 10, and that is a learning experience I will never forget. You and the many other students from our school who never returned home to Brantford will continue to be remembered at BCI. We have not forgotten you and the immense responsibility we have to preserve your legacy.

Visiting the Ring of Remembrance and seeing your name engraved on one of the many panels will be the highlight of the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. I brought a backpack signed by many BCI staff and students, and I am taking a picture of it alongside your name to show our school that our history is real, and it cannot be dismissed, ignored, or forgotten. I also have the chance to visit a BCI soldier’s grave in Tyne Cot and locate the names of BCI soldiers on the Vimy Memorial and on Menin Gate. I am incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to honour so many BCI students within one week.

Thank you for inspiring me with your courage and selflessness. You have shown me that Brantford women can accomplish great things. Thank you for making me believe in myself and in Brantford.

Lest we forget.


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A Vimy Ridge Day Conversation

On April 9th, 2020, Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Alexandra Elmslie from Guelph, ON, had the chance to talk to Margaret Willoughby, daughter of Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid who was at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and whose words are etched into the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Elmslie writes about the significance of this Vimy Ridge Day call below.

As youth today, we aren’t often provided with the opportunity to reach into the past and make a personal connection with someone having first-hand knowledge of a historical event.  Recently, I was given the opportunity to speak with Margaret Willoughby, daughter of Colonel Archer Fortescue Duguid, one of the brave soldiers who fought at Vimy Ridge in 1917. Being one of the recipients of the 2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award, I was very excited about this opportunity to learn more about Margaret’s father, who played an integral role in one of Canada’s historic military battles. 

Margaret was eager to share her remarkable story with me, speaking not only of her father’s involvement in the Battle of Vimy Ridge but also of his extraordinary influence in Canadian history. Margaret spoke very fondly of her father, primarily recalling memories of them together in his study as he wrote. 

She expressed great pride in his accomplishments, explaining how her father became the inaugural Canadian historian for the First World War and how his aptitude for writing led him to compose several historical publications. His penchant for writing was forever immortalized when his phrase, “To the valour of their countrymen in the Great War and in memory of their sixty thousand dead this monument is raised by the people of Canada,” was chosen as an inscription on the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. 

More importantly, however, she spoke to me about her father’s participation in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. She recalled her father’s stories about his time in the underground tunnels before the battle where his fellow comrades and him inscribed their names on the limestone walls. 

I am unable to express how truly incredible the experience was for me to personally hear about a soldier’s experience during Vimy through Margaret. It helped me appreciate the Battle of Vimy Ridge from another perspective, deepening and illuminating my knowledge of this historic event. 

When I travel to Belgium and France with the Vimy Pilgrimage Award, her perspective will undoubtedly influence my experience. When I look at the monument and read the inscription, her heartfelt pride in her father’s accomplishments will no doubt come soaring back to me. 

This experience also served as a reminder of the critical role our generation plays in preserving the memory of the First World War over one hundred years later. Throughout our conversation, Margaret was insistent that her father’s memory, and that of his fellow soldiers, be kept alive by our generation. 

As the past recedes further recedes from us, it is crucial to continue remembering the hardships endured and the sacrifices made by those who fought for a larger purpose than themselves, a task which Margaret and countless others like her hope our generation can fulfill.

As we undergo this global pandemic, it’s important to remember all the difficult times our nation has endured. Speaking with Margaret reminded me of our ability, as a people and as a nation, to persevere in the face of adversity, a trait as prevalent today as it was in 1917. We are once again called together to unite as one people fighting for the common good; we are called to unite in the face of a common enemy and put the welfare of all Canadians at the forefront of our minds.

-Alexandra Elmslie кредит онлайн

Una Chang's Nursing Sister Tribute

2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Una Chang from Vancouver, BC, wrote the following tribute after researching the life of Eden Lyal Pringle who died serving in the First World War.

Dear Ms. Eden Lyal Pringle, 

It’s me, Una. I’ll start by introducing who I am. I’m a seventeen-year-old girl living in Canada. I like reading, watching movies, and spending time with my friends and family. I live a relatively privileged life in 2020. The world that I live in today is no fairytale, but I do not have to worry about a war breaking out or a national famine in the near future. 

When I was doing research about you, I could not help but notice the evident differences between the two of us: our cultures, ethnicities, religion and age, to name a few. I grew up in a Korean household, while you grew up in a European- Canadian household. I’m protestant, and you were part of the Church of England. I’m seventeen, and you were twenty-three. I have two brothers, and you had none. 

But as I looked further, I found that similarities between the two of us can be found beyond the surface-level. Like you, I aspire to help others in need. Like you, I have a passion for the sciences. Like you, I want to take a stand for a cause bigger than myself. I hope to support others in need by becoming a Nurse. 

At the mere age of twenty-three, you made the decision that would change your life. How did you feel when enlisted? Did you think about the consequences? Did you think that you could potentially not come back? To not come back to your parents, your friends, your co-workers, to your home? 

With these questions in mind, I began to imagine myself in your place. I imagine that you would have been scared. At the same time, excited to take part in a nation-wide effort. If I was put in your position, would I have made the same decision? I suppose that is something that I will not have to worry about, because you volunteered your safe life at home to help those overseas. Because of you, I have the liberty and the privilege of wondering – and only wondering – “what if”. 

I want to let you know that I remember you. I will continue to remember you. I want to let you know that you will not be forgotten. That your life and your sacrifice is not wasted. Because of you, I’m even more inspired to pursue a career in Nursing and help those in need. Although you will never get a chance to read this letter, I will pass on your legacy throughout the years to come. Thank you. 


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Coralie Bureau's Soldier Tribute

2020 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient Coralie Bureau from Victoriaville, QC, wrote the following tribute after researching the life Eugene Auger who died serving in the First World War.

At the beginning of the First Word War, Canadian soldiers helping in Europe were volunteers. However, the lack of soldiers to send to the front resulted in a variety of techniques to promote enrolment. For example, recruiters were sent as early as 1915 to Victoriaville, my hometown, to solicit and enlist men. However, these men did not always act ethically. They were paid “by the unit”, which is why some of them didn’t hesitate to drink with young men and to pay for their drinks. When these young men were drunk, the recruiters made them sign the military engagement documents. Once these documents were signed, there was no turning back. 

Eugene Auger, of Victoriaville, enlisted in the army that same year when the conscription had not yet been voted. In my opinion, it was perhaps the presence of these recruiters that incited Eugène Auger to enlist in the army. It may have been done ethically or not, but he did serve at the front. 

I believe that the propaganda at the time to promote the war effort may have also influenced Eugene Auger’s decision. In fact, daily editorials, political speeches and posters exerted great pressure on men. They were very coveted to serve in the army. Some of these propagandists wanted to push men into enlistment and did so by questioning their masculinity. Eugene Auger was 21 years old when he joined the war effort, so I think questioning his virility may have encouraged him to enlist. 

To conclude, I believe Eugene Auger was a very courageous young man, because no matter what conditions led him to enlist in the Canadian army, he fought at the front and served his country in the most honourable way. Moreover, his life 100 years later is for me an example of bravery and reliability. Eugene Auger enlisted to fight at the front, and so he did. He lived up to his commitment despite the fact he was probably filled with fear during that war. I know it, because according to my research, he died at the front in the middle of a battle, two years after he enlisted. 

From now on, when I’ll walk past the Victoriaville cenotaph where Eugène Auger is commemorated, I will think of this man and the courage he has shown. On behalf of myself and the entire city of Victoriaville, I would like to thank him very sincerely for his bravery.  займы онлайн без залога

Keneisha Charles' Reflections on the Vimy Pilgrimage Award

Keneisha Charles, 2019 Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient

In April 2019, I travelled to France and Belgium to experience First World War history with 19 youth from across Canada through the Vimy Pilgrimage Award program. My expectations were trepidatious. I never truly connected with Canadian history. The experiences of Black and other racialized people are typically either ignored or offered as a fragmented side-note of incomplete trauma and superficial reconciliation. History was a confusing, bitter, and often painful subject for me.

The VPA helped me find a new meaning. As we toured monuments, museums, and cemeteries, I was able to see, touch, and feel the past. But most of all, I was able to do it through a lens of Blackness with Private Aubrey Mitchell and Private Vincent Carvery.

We’re not related, and they died over 100 years ago. But over the week, they became family.

War was for the White man. Yet these Black men chose to serve in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. I grappled to understand the racism, the trauma they endured, but most of all, the humanity they exhibited in the face of it all.

This was a journey. It was filled with laughter and new friendships, but also pain and vulnerability as I asked questions of myself and of history that I had never known to ask. And as I learned the stories of Aubrey and Vincent, I learned more about my own, too.

I come from a legacy of resilience. And though they may not talk about Canada’s Black Battalion in textbooks or films, I will always know their names and I will always remember the place in history they carved for me—a place that I will not let be taken away.

To my fellow participants, thank you for reminding me what community feels like. Thank you for letting me draw on your strength. Thank you for walking this journey alongside me.

To the chaperones and the Vimy Foundation, thank you for giving me the space to ask the questions I needed to ask and feel what I needed to feel.

And to Aubrey and Vincent. You give me strength. Strength to face a world that I sometimes feel wasn’t made for me. Strength to continue to make space for myself and others where there wasn’t before. Strength to be Black, despite any and every thing. I am so proud to have ancestors like you.

Endless love and gratitude. займ без отказа