Winners of contest on John McCrae’s famous poem “in Flanders Fields” spend a week in Belgium
A group of five young Canadians are finishing today a 7-day visit to Belgium. These young people, between the ages of 16 and 18, are the winners of a competition organized by the Belgian Embassy in Ottawa, in partnership with Rencontres du Canada. The 200 or so competitors were asked to submit a work inspired by Canadian Medical Officer John McCrae's famous poem “In Flanders Fields”. The composition made the poppy the symbol of the First World War dead for Commonwealth countries. This initiative is part of the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele, also known as the "Third Battle of Ypres," in which 15,600 Canadian soldiers were killed or wounded.
The five winners were offered the trip to Belgium they are completing at the moment. They were taken in charge by the War Heritage Institute and discovered the main memorial sites related to the First World War and the sacrifices made by their country in this context. They also visited Belgian sites that are particularly representative of the struggle for peace, security and democracy. Their program included Messines and Ploegsteert Memorials, Passchendaele Museum, In Flanders Fields Museum and Last Post in Ypres, John McRae Site, Canadian Monuments of Passchendaele and Sint-Juliaan, Military Cemeteries Zonnebeke , Houthulst and Langemark-Poelkapelle, the For Freedom Museum in Knokke-Heist, as well as a visit to the city of Mons, the Breendonk Memorial, the Dossin de Mechelen barracks, the Loncin Fort necropolis, and the Royal Museum Of the Army in Brussels.
In Messines and Ypres, the young Canadians were accompanied by Mr. Paul Breyne, the Commissioner-General for the Commemoration of the First World War. On Friday, July 28, they were greeted by the Embassy of Canada in Brussels and then by the FPS Foreign Affairs, where they were received by Ambassador Françoise Gustin, Deputy Commissioner-General for the Commemoration of the First World War.
The Belgian component of the project, implemented by the War Heritage Institute, is realized with the support of the Federal Organizing Committee for the commemoration of the centenary of the First World War and the FPS Foreign Affairs. The purpose of the initiative was to pay a tribute to the commitment and sacrifices of Canadians on Belgian soil during the First World War, in the context of the strong relations between the two countries.