'Giving the stories to the youth': Young Canadians share story of Vimy on social media

'Giving the stories to the youth': Young Canadians share story of Vimy on social media

From Facebook live tours to vlogs, Veterans Affairs Canada is using young Canadians to tell stories from the Vimy anniversary.

"We want to give the perspective of what it's like to be over there as a youth," said Jennifer Ellis, a social media officer with Veterans Affairs Canada in Charlottetown.

"Giving the stories to the youth to tell will help us show their experiences without a filter put on by an adult."

Instagram takeover

Starting April 1, student guides at the Vimy monument will "take over" the Veterans Affairs Canada Instagram account. 

"We're doing a different take on last year's Instagram takeover, we're taking the angle of a behind the scenes look," said Sarah Sullivan, also a social media officer at VAC.

The guides will show how the Vimy site is being prepared for the 100th anniversary on April 9 and they'll continue posting right through the events.

"Instagram is where a lot of the younger generation is, they're watching instastories, posting stories daily, doing Instagram Live," said Sullivan. 

"Personally I'm always on Instagram, that's where I like to be so it's really how to connect with the younger millennials."

The Vimy vlog

The VAC social media staff will also get some of the official youth delegation at Vimy involved.

"Vlogs and travel vlogs [video blog] are increasing in popularity and we're going to hand a few cameras over to the youth and they're going to take us on their journey, what they get up to day to day," said Sullivan.  

The vlogs will be posted on YouTube, Facebook, with links on Twitter and VAC hope to have some of the video material online shortly after the youth arrive in France on Wednesday.

'Be prepared for everything'

The social media staff used some of the formats at last year's 100th anniversary of Beaumont-Hamel last year, and learned some valuable lessons.

"We went through some technical hiccups when we got over there," said Ellis.

"Some days, like when we were at Vimy last year, if it was a cloudy day the connection wasn't always the strongest but if it was beautiful and sunny, it was great," said Ellis.

"Just to be prepared for everything."

'Canada became a nation, they say, at Vimy Ridge'

Already, the social media team has been experimenting with Facebook Live. One of the student guides did a fifteen minute live tour of the Vimy monument, which was viewed over 50,000 times in just a few days.

"Not many people have the opportunity to make it overseas to see Vimy so it was really great to kind of bring that home to Canadians," said Ellis.

"I think the views will grow and hopefully that will entice people to come back and check out the Facebook lives as we go through the anniversary events," said Ellis.

The social media group started promoting the Vimy anniversary with daily posts on the Canada Remembers Facebook page, beginning in January.

"I think Canadians really connect with remembrance and this is such a significant anniversary," said Ellis. 

"Canada became a nation, they say, at Vimy Ridge, I think people are connecting with that."

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