Remembering a Vimy veteran: Fredericton teen earns pilgrimage

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Remembering a Vimy veteran: Fredericton teen earns pilgrimage

Ady King, a high school student in Fredericton, is about to embark on the trip of a lifetime.

On Friday the 15-year-old who attends École Sainte-Anne will board a plane headed for Europe where she'll pilgrimage across France and Belgium to learn about and honour the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge.

"I've always been interested in history," she said.

"Actually experiencing where these things happened, you know," she said, pausing a moment to think, "it would be amazing."

King is one of only 17 applicants Canada-wide to receive the Vimy Pilgrimage Award.

Vimy contest

In a letter she wrote to The Vimy Foundation she explained why she's a suitable candidate and how, in some way, she's shown leadership in her life.

"I wrote about working with the Child and Youth Advocate Office of New Brunswick with a few other friends," she said. "We acted as a youth facilitators for a weekend-long forum called 'Shaking the Movers.'"

"The goal of that was educating kids about their rights."

She also told them about writing for Le Regroupement féministe du Nouveau-Brunswick and the Day of the Woman. She wrote about the need to include non-binary people in these conversations.

More than 300 applicants

King was selected out of more than 300 applications and was told over the phone she made it.

"I was trying to play it cool," she said about the call. "[But] internally I was freaking out."

"I mean, that's so cool. Out of all those people."

She'll be abroad all next week, she said. And while the teen, who has never travelled outside North America before, is excited for every second of the trip, including the stop in Paris, she's feels the weight and responsibility of one part in particular.

"You take a name that's on the Vimy Memorial, a random name, and you do research on this person, find out who they were, where they come from, what they did, when they died," she said.

Will honour soldier

King's soldier is Edward Blake. Besides being from Toronto, not much is known about him.

"It almost seemed like he appeared, signed up for the war, and then went," she said.

"I think [this project] is to make you closer to the soldiers and make a personal connections. And we might be the only people remembering these people, besides their descendants."

On the anniversary on April 9, each of the 17 youth will present a tribute made in honour of the soldier they've selected.

"Anything you felt," she said. "You were allowed to do."

King thinks she'll prepare a handwritten letter to her soldier, but hasn't decided completely.

"I want it to be good," she said.

Since so little is known about Blake, King feels the weight of responsibility a little more. Despite living 100 years later, she feels tied to the name.

"It's remembering this person, who might not otherwise be remembered by anyone," she said. "[Edward Blake] wasn't even married. He didn't have kids."

"I could be the only one remembering him at Vimy Ridge."

The memorial service marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge begins Sunday.