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INTRO

The First World War is long gone. But long ago a promise was made that the men and women from that war would not be forgotten. It is said that the roots of memory lie in specifics. In April 2007, the magnificent Canadian Monument at Vimy Ridge in France will be rededicated. Just as the fabric of the Monument is being restored in France, so must the memories of the soldiers in Canada. Specific words, individual thoughts, particular reflections from the thousands of men who fought during those days will, hopefully, root the memories of those veterans for another generation. This project is part of a promise.

CONCEPT

We propose a virtual roll call. April 2007 marks the 90th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge in France. The Monument, that was built atop Vimy Ridge, was designed by sculptor Walter Allward. Completed in 1936, the monument is undergoing extensive renovations to promote and preserve the memory of the tens of thousands of Canadians who fought and died in France and Belgium in WWI.

Many of the young Canadians who died there in 1917 still remain beneath the soil of Vimy Ridge today. Just as the stone of the Monument is being restored, so we feel should be the memories of the men who risked and gave their lives during those days in 1917

After the war, veterans of the Vimy battle returned to their families across Canada. Others stayed behind in the graveyards of Europe. The thoughts and reflections of the men from that day still exist in letters, journals and recorded reminiscences that are scattered in attics and family memorabilia across Canada.

THE PURPOSE

'Words From Vimy' wishes to rekindle the connection with the individual young men who were at battle in April 1917. It wishes to honour those soldiers through that connection and perhaps provide an historical document that might be offered to the Vimy site itself or offered as a teaching aid in Canadian schools.

COLLECTION

Once the families are contacted, with their permission, the project will seek to collect copies of individual memoirs, letters, journals and photographs relating to the battle at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The project will also search through archival television and audio recording for past interviews with the veterans. Previously published material on Canadian involvement in WWI will also be included in the search provided they include personal accounts by the veterans themselves.

ASSEMBLY

The materials will be assembled using the timeframe of the battle as the spine of the assembly. The project seeks a narrative of the battle of Vimy Ridge spoken by the men who were there. By following the thoughts and reflections of some of the 97,000 Canadians as they prepared for the battle, waited for it, took part in it, then recovered from it, the project hopes to make the extraordinary efforts of those days so clear and 'present' that they will once again live in our nation's memory.

PROMOTING REMEMBRANCE

Encouraging families across Canada to explore records of their fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers is an act of remembrance. The potential offering of the assembled material to Canadians either through schools or through the Vimy Monument itself is an act of remembrance. We hope this collection, once assembled, will last as long as the stone of the monument itself. The longest memories live in the youngest Canadians. It is, therefore, our objective to find a way to make this collection accessible to the schools of Canada.

Many cultures were present in the Canadian army of WWI and many cultures worked in the support of our army. It is our wish to contact as many families from as many cultures as possible living now in Canada -- be they English, First Nations, Ukranian, Quebecers, Chinese, Scottish, South Asian or any other. Divergent cultures make up Canada today and they were also present in 1917 in France and Belgium.