The cities of Edmonton and Winnipeg have taken the everyday snowfall of winter and turned it into something beautiful to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge. These monuments carved out of the snow are currently on display for public viewing.
“We know that Canadians are very interested in their family history and their heritage; and as we are in our 150th year, the reality is people want to know: how did my family contribute, how can I contribute in the future? So, Vimy an opportunity to explore the history of Canada and that is what we would hope this would do. Encourage people to get a little more curious about their own family, find out if there is a connection to the First World War,” said Pam Shaw, Canada Remembers Program Advisor, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC).
VAC partnered with local organizations to encourage the creation of snow sculptures that recognize and commemorate the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Located in Edmonton’s Hawrelak Park, Edmonton’s snow sculpture was created in partnership with the Edmonton Silver Skate Festival. The 14 feet tall sculpture is a replica of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France and was created by artists Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur, based on the theme of “a brave new world.”
“This is one of those themes that come when you refer to the First World War, and how countries define themselves after that, and how it was a new world in a way,” added Shaw.
Winnipeg’s tribute to Vimy Ridge was created in partnership with the city’s Festival du Voyageur and the Province of Manitoba. The sculpture is a replica of the Canada Bereft monument at the Vimy Ridge Memorial in France.
“It is this iconic image of a woman with a veil who is pondering the loss of all the lives in the Vimy Battle, as well as the First World War,” explained Shaw.
Every year VAC reaches out to local organizations and festivals to encourage commemoration projects.
“What we are very proud of at VAC is the way commemoration really encourage an active citizenship because commemoration is not a very casual activity. You have to concisely make a decision to remember and what you are remembering, and why; and often people would look at something like this and say this is so unique, I wouldn’t have thought of a snow sculpture. So, we like to encourage some new way to remember. Every generation does it differently,” said Shaw.
The sculptures will be on display for the public to view as long as the weather cooperates, says Shaw.
To learn more about Vimy Ridge and the commemoration events of 2017 visit the VAC website.
**Photo courtesy of Grant Cree. **