With another Broncs World Tour journey coming to an end, Ponoka Secondary Campus teacher and program organizer Ron Labrie, along with his students, gave a presentation of their experiences at the Ponoka Royal Canadian Legion on Thursday, April 9.
Each year, following the conclusion of the trip by the World Tour class, a presentation is made in the community, with a special focus on the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
“For the younger generation, it is really is an amazing project,” said Labrie.
“I think it’s good for the students to find out about who lived in their community and made the ultimate sacrifice,” he added.
Bringing the information back to the community also benefits the legionnaires in particular, as it reaffirms future generations will carry on in remembrance, says Labrie.
As the event progressed, a parade of astounded and emotional Broncs students briefly shared their experiences from the Vimy Memorial.
The day the students visited the monument it was pouring rain with high winds, which many students said added to their feelings of the day.
“The guards were just so impressed with our ability to hang out there in the terrible weather,” said Labrie. He says it would have been similar weather on the day of the Battle and it only added more awareness for the students on what the soldiers would have been up against.
By no planning of his own, Labrie says the Broncs World Tour will be finished researching all the Ponoka soldiers by 2017, the centennial year of Vimy.
Over the past school year, one of the soldiers researched by the Broncs World Tour students was Lawrence Wyatt. He was born in Halifax but eventually moved to Alberta and enlisted in Calgary when he was 20 years old.
Wyatt was on location when the Battle of Vimy Ridge began and, in the days following, helped storm a key village in the area. “It led to Lawrence’s untimely death,” said Amy Hodges, a student with the Broncs World Tour. Wyatt was not yet 21 years old.
A photo of Wyatt, his two brothers and his father, all in their military uniforms was discovered by the students. However, Labrie says they are unable to tell who is who.
For Canada, the Battle of Vimy Ridge is an especially important military accomplishment. “I guess we should be proud because the Canadians really did take this ridge,” said Labrie.
Labrie told the audience how the Canadian forces were able to use physics to pinpoint within a few meters where the German guns were. The Germans were attacked and this aided the allies’ advance along the kilometres long ridge. “It was really a difficult battle,” Labrie said.
In 1920, the land of Vimy Ridge was gifted to Canada and it is where the Vimy Memorial stands. Labrie says it is so magnificent that even Hitler could not destroy it. “He went there and was actually quite enthralled by its beauty.”
“Those who are able, I would encourage you to definitely try and get there someday. It is the best part of Canada, I think,” said Labrie.
PQ: “I guess we should be proud because the Canadians really did take this ridge.” Ron Labrie, Broncs World Tour organizer