Pointe-Claire students travel to Vimy Ridge for battle's 100th anniversary

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Pointe-Claire students travel to Vimy Ridge for battle's 100th anniversary

Next month, as Canada marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, students at Lindsay Place High School in Pointe-Claire will get a chance to see where history happened.

"We started planning this trip a few years ago, but now that we're within a few weeks [of leaving], it's pretty exciting," said student Benjamin Smolash-Harris.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, which began on April 9, 1917, is regarded as one of the most significant victories in Canadian military history. It marked the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together as a single unit.

Of the estimated 100,000 Canadian soldiers who took part in the four-day battle, nearly 3,600 were killed, and another 7,000 were wounded. 

France ceded Vimy Ridge and the land around it to Canada in 1922.

The soaring monument that now tops it was unveiled in 1936 and is etched with the names of the 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed during World War One who have no known graves.

For Lindsay Place student Khyleigh Brown, getting to tour the site in France will bring new meaning to what she's learned already.

"You can read as much as you want about it in the history books, but being there will actually be putting it into perspective," she told CBC.

"There were people there one hundred years ago actually fighting for the freedom of our country."

In all, 35 students from the school will be making their way to Vimy Ridge, along with students and teachers from other Canadian schools.

Veterans Affairs is expecting upwards of 25,000 Canadians at Vimy Ridge to mark the battle's 100th anniversary.  

The trip's main organizer, teacher Melissa Hunter, is just as excited as the students are. 

"I think that by participating in this with other Canadians across the country, that's what's going to make it so special.
It's bigger than us, as one school," she said.

The students depart for their trip through England, France and the Netherlands on April 6.