Local student to tour historical sites in Europe

A local high school student has won a prestigious international award from the Vimy Foundation, a Canadian charity, to travel to historical sites in Europe: the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. From hundreds of applicants across Canada, the UK and France, a Grade 11 student from Gladmar, Anna Hoimyr, was selected to participate in this flagship scholarship program, the only Saskatchewan student selected.

The Beaverbrook Vimy Prize consists of a fully funded, two-week educational program in England, France, and Belgium to study the intertwined history of our countries during the First and Second World Wars.

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“I’m really excited that I’ll be able to go on this trip,” said Anna in an interview, noting she applied for this program because of her love of history.

“This program seemed like the perfect opportunity to teach me a lot about history, and give us the chance to teach each other and share what I’ve learned,” she said.

The 16-year-old was selected for this program on the strength of her application, which included an essay about the PTSD faced by soldiers throughout the last century, an analysis of First World War art, and a motivation letter. An artist and writer, Anna exhibits a thoughtfulness and maturity that marks her as a future leader in her community and country.

She writes on the importance of history: “every lesson we learn, every moral we use in our lives, is born from the conflicts and alliances we find in the real lives of the ones who came before us.”

Scheduled for Aug. 8-23, 2018, a total of 16 outstanding students (from Canada, the UK, and France) will attend intimate history lectures at Oxford, pay their respects at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, learn from experts at Ypres, Passchendaele, and Beaumont Hamel, walk along Juno Beach and other key sites in Normandy, and participate in unique commemoration ceremonies at the Menin Gate (First World War) and at Dieppe (Second World War).

In addition, the participants in the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize program for 2018 have a very unique opportunity to visit many of the sites of the First World War a century after the battles took place.

Anna said she is greatly looking forward to visiting these sites and seeing first-hand where history was made. She understands that they may also be meeting survivors of the Second World War who were in the French Resistance, which would afford her a chance to hear from someone who experienced the war first-hand.

Career-wise, her plans after graduation are to be an archeologist, and hopes to learn a lot through this trip that she might be able to use towards that goal. When she returns, Anna said she will giving a presentation to her fellow students at Gladmar Regional School, and said she would be very interested in making a presentation to any group or organization who would be interested.

To help the Vimy Foundation and to increase the awareness of their work, Anna is selling Vimy pins for $5 each. She can often be found at the Farmers Market in Estevan selling the pins, or she can be reached at home.

The Canadian Corps’ accomplishments from August 8 to November 11, 1918 were truly impressive, though incredibly costly, as when the Allies planned the offensives that would ultimately win the war, Canada’s soldiers were given the responsibility of being at the forefront of the attacks. Beaverbrook Vimy Prize students will be visiting many of the key locations from the Last 100 Days campaign, including Amiens, Cambrai, and Mons.

There are no longer any veterans of the First World War still with us: we have lost that direct connection with their stories - of the tragedy of war, of the reasons why they enlisted to fight, of the impact of the war on them, their families, and their countries.

There are no more living links to the First World War, so this is why the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize program exists, to keep their legacy alive by engaging today’s youth in discovering more about our shared past.