Steinbach, MB

13°c Sunny

Full Forecast



SRSS student returns following ‘very emotional’ Vimy experience

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 09/3/2018 9:00 AM

  • Print


A Steinbach teenager who recently returned from a whirlwind war history tour in Europe says the trip impressed on her the sacrifice of soldiers past and present.

"I thought I would understand from reading about it and seeing pictures. But once you’re there, it’s a whole different experience," said Cassidy Choquette, a 17-year-old SRSS student entering Grade 12 this fall.

Choquette was one of 16 students who beat out hundreds of applicants from Canada, France, and the United Kingdom to win the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize, which grants recipients a two-week educational tour of historical sites in England, France, and Belgium.

The Vimy Foundation and Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation hope the prize instills in young people an appreciation for Canada’s contributions to the First World War, a release said.

"We opened so many new doors and had so many insightful conversations," said Choquette, the group’s lone Manitoban.

Her Grade 11 history teacher, Jolene Fiarchuk, urged her to apply after Choquette completed a soldier research project.

"That got me really passionate about history," Choquette said.

The trip gave her a chance to profile another soldier. She selected Private John George Baggs of Newfoundland, who enlisted in February 1916 and died, aged 23, in the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

Choquette read Baggs a letter at his gravesite in the La Chaudiere Military Cemetery in Pas de Calais, France.

"That was the most impactful moment for me," she said.

Students also visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial near Arras, France, where they observed 30 minutes of silence.

"It was a moment for us to take it in," Choquette said.

The trip also included a history lecture at Oxford University, a walk along Juno Beach, and a visit to Ypres, Belgium, where the Battle of Passchendaele was waged.

Choquette said walking around the battle sites "was very emotional."

"Empathy is very important to me. I like to think if I was a soldier," she explained.

"I tried my best to put myself in all of these people’s shoes…It’s such a difficult thing to do but it’s so important."

Military service isn’t an abstract topic for Choquette, who said her brother attends the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ont., following in the footsteps of her father, who also served.

Choquette herself is considering a history-related career in research or teaching.

While a century has passed since the First World War, Choquette said young people today should reflect on the troops who fought for their freedom.

"A lot of them were my age…If I, at this age, made that sacrifice for my country and the world, how would I feel if generations after me forgot about me? I wouldn’t want to be forgotten, so I want to carry that torch for them."

More Local News

  • Doors closed on Sunday shopping referendum

    09/19/2018 9:15 AM

    The debate over whether Steinbach should allow Sunday shopping may continue, but the question of whether a referendum question be added to the Oct. 24 municipal election ballot was answered definitively on Tuesday night.

    Council received a petition with 503 names ...

  • Tony and Rob Fast show off a large RCA radio transmitter housed in the rear compartment of their 1942 utility truck.

    Brothers restore vehicles, memories

    09/17/2018 10:30 AM
  • Man exposes himself to children in Mitchell

    09/17/2018 8:30 AM

    A Mitchell man has been arrested after an indecent exposure incident was reported to police late last week.

    Police said last Thursday at about 4:40 p.m. a report was received a man had exposed himself to a group of children.

    Tylor Alexander ...

Ads by Google

Electronic Copies

The Carillon single copy cover

Annual Subscription

Back issues available with an e-subscription

Subscribe to single copy
$1.50 each (includes tax)

September 6, 2018 copy now available

Read this week’s classifieds