Stephanie Nowak and students from around the world visit Vimy Ridge.

Stephanie Nowak and students from around the world visit Vimy Ridge.

An international lesson in Canadian history

Stephanie Nowak, 17, hopes students will take the time to apply for a chance at a firsthand history lesson.

A Grade 12 student at Earl Marriott Secondary is urging her fellow students to apply for an annual scholarship focusing on one of Canada’s most significant battles.

Stephanie Nowak, 17, says she hopes students will take the time to apply to the Vimy Foundation’s flagship program, the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize competition.

The winners of the competition will receive a two-week trip to Europe to learn about the Canadian victory over the Germans during the First World War at the Battle of Vimy Ridge in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France.

Nowak, who went on the trip this past summer, told Peace Arch News this week that many of her classmates were discouraged to apply last year because of the requirements – which include a 1,500-word essay – but that those who didn’t apply missed out on a great experience.

“A lot of people didn’t want to go through the application process, but what motivated me was the fact that you receive two weeks in Europe, all paid for, and you get to meet kids from all over the world,” said Nowak, who was the only teenager from B.C. to win the award last year.

“You really get to learn about the war firsthand, which is more productive than learning in history class.”

During the trip, which included stops in England, France and Belgium, the 13 students visited historical landmarks including the Cabinet War Rooms in England, where then-prime minister Winston Churchill devised battle strategies during the war.

“Our teacher had us think about how the battle was fought from underground, in this tiny enclosure, and how different it is to the wars we have now,” Nowak said.

The students also travelled to Belgium, seeing remnants of the war strewn across the landscape, serving as a constant reminder of what had occurred years before, she said.

“Travelling through the countryside, you can see the remains of churches that have been bombed and there are all these remembrances of the war. Those people are reminded every single day about the war,” said Nowak.

“There are craters in the ground still – it was shocking to see, whereas in Canada we don’t see that on a day-to-day basis.”

Near the end of the trip, the students went to Arras in France to see the Vimy Ridge memorial. Despite the memorial being dedicated to Canadians who died in the historic battle, Nowak said that very few Canadians visit the site – another reason why it’s so important to get involved with Canadian history.

“Vimy Ridge is the nicest and biggest memorial to any allied force in World War I – and the Canadians got that in Europe – but out of people who go to visit, Canadians are the minority,” Nowak said. “That’s the whole reason they have the prize, to have people to remember this and the story behind it – how Vimy Ridge was the start of Canadian identity coming together.”

According to the Vimy Foundation website (www.vimyfoundation.ca/vimyprize), the competition also builds upon the legacy of Lord Beaverbrook – a prominent Canadian historical figure who rose up from a modest background to become a newspaper publisher, government minister and a friend of Winston Churchill.

Students interested in applying for the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize this year have until Dec. 31 at midnight to apply.

Applicants must be born in 1995-’97 and must be younger than 18 on Aug. 31, 2012.

Students who apply must also have a 70 per cent grade average at school and proven leadership skills.

Those who win the scholarship will depart for Europe Aug. 7 and return Aug. 21.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gurinder Mann. (Submitted photo)
Surrey man receives prestigious restorative justice award

East Newton resident Gurinder Mann one of five to receive a Community Safety and Crime Prevention Award

TEASE PHOTO: Teens at the Bumpers dance club in Whalley in the 1980s, in a photo posted to the "Bumpers / The Zone OFFICIAL Party Page" on Facebook.com.
SURREY NOW & THEN: Bumpers and other teen dance clubs were big in the 1980s

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites and events

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service looking to hire in-house lawyer

Solicitor to work within Office of the Chief Constable, serve on internal and external committees to ‘represent the SPS’s interests’

Surrey provincial court. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
New COVID-19 protocols set for provincial courthouses

The new rules were issued on Jan. 21, and took effect immediately

Tyler Tardi will serve as a fifth on Team Laycock at the 2021 Tim Hortons Brier. (Black Press Media file photo)
Tyler Tardi to serve as alternate for B.C. team at Brier

Langley/Cloverdale curler to serve as ‘fifth’ on Team Laycock at Calgary-hosted championships

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance municipal staff meeting in B.C.

Vancouver Island firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Police in Vancouver looking for male suspect who allegedly spat and attacked a store manager for not wearing a mask, at 7-Eleven near Alma Street and West 10th Avenue just before noon on Dec. 17, 2020. (Vancouver police handout)
VIDEO: Man spits on 7-Eleven manager over mask rule, sparking Vancouver police probe

‘Unfortunately, the store manager sustained a cut to his head during the assault’

The Vancouver-based SAR team successfully rescued two lost snowshoers off of the west side of Tim Jones Peak in the early morning of Monday, Jan. 19. (North Shore Rescue photo)
B.C.’s busiest SAR team raises alarm after 2021 begins with fatality, multiple rescues

‘People beyond ski resort areas of Seymour, Grouse, and Cypress go without cell reception,’ SAR warns

Competitors make their way through the course at the 2019 Canadian Cross Country Championships, which was hosted by Abbotsford in 2019. (File photo)
Abbotsford to host 2023 Canadian Cross Country Championships

Clearbrook Park last hosted the event in 2019, Ottawa hosting 2021 and 2022 races

Most Read