August 2014 marked the beginning of the First World War centennial. Canadians no longer have any veterans of the First World War still alive: the country has 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 country.
The Vimy Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for young Canadians to learn about our First World War legacy, as symbolized with the victory at Vimy nearly 100 years ago. That’s why they develop education programs to help youth learn more about the sacrifices made by an entire generation 100 years ago – a time when Canada came of age and was recognized on the world stage for its contributions.
The Montreal-based Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation has recently announced that they will be contributing $300,000 to the Vimy Foundation over the next three years to support the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize. Through this program, high school students from Canada, France, and Britain travel to Europe for two weeks each August to study firsthand the intertwined history of the three countries during the First World War.
“We are pleased to continue our support for this important program,” says Vincent Prager, Board Governor of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation. “By educating young people about their history, and forging relationships between students from these three countries, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize works to build a new generation of inspired citizens.”
There were 16 winners of the 2015 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, chosen from hundreds of outstanding candidates based on their submitted essays, motivation letters, and reference letters. Interest in the program is growing significantly, with a three-fold increase in applications this year.
Established in 2006, the prestigious Beaverbrook Vimy Prize continues to be an outstanding opportunity for students, who are able to walk in the footsteps of history. By participating in this life-changing program, the students are inspired by what they learn and in turn develop a more profound connection to their countries’ history.
Seventeen-year-old Nicholas Johnson of Montreal, QC, a 2014 Beaverbrook Vimy Prize winner, writes that “thanks to the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, I have had the opportunity to better understand the history of Canada, England and France as well as the bravery and sacrifice of those who served in the war through first hand experiences. Every single day of the journey was a highlight in its own right and I find it very hard to express what the experience truly meant to me through mere words.”