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Up close and personal with history: Shaughnessy Elementary students discover a chapter of World War 2

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Grade 5 and 6 students at Shaughnessy Elementary received a special honour when they took part in a ceremony as the Seaforth Armoury on March 5, to unveil the official poster marking Canada's commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and the Allied Victory in Europe – known as VE Day.

For the past five years, Carla Pace's class at Shaughnessy Elementary have been creating poppies using recyclable materials such as pop bottles and pieces of cloth and placing them on the grounds of Vancouver City Hall each November as part of Remembrance Day activities. In 2019, the students added red feathers to their display to mark National Aboriginal Veterans Day. Because of that effort, the class was invited to participate in the public unveiling of the 75th anniversary Netherlands liberation poster featuring Second World War Veteran Sergeant (Retired) Norman Kirby.

Pace said this project was a learning experience for both her and the class as they discovered Canada's role in freeing the Netherlands. "The kids know that Remembrance Day is a big thing in our class. I didn't know much about the liberation of the Netherlands, so I told the students that we're going to be learning about it together."

During the ceremony, students had the chance to meet Kirby and ask him questions about his time during the war in the Netherlands 75 years ago. "It was better than a book," said Emily, a grade 6 student. "It was an amazing experience to see him in person." Jack, a grade 5 student, called it a "very special opportunity and privilege."

The Shaughnessy Elementary students wore white, red and orange t-shirts featuring their own colourful Canadian maple leaf and Dutch tulip-inspired designs. "We've made this very personal," added Pace. "It's been quite a neat thing to see them engage and be interested in making the t-shirts."

"I am extremely honoured to be on the poster commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and the end of the Second World War in Europe," said Kirby. "It's a privilege to be in this position, and nice to know that a younger generation of Canadians will continue to remember."

Read about Shaughnessy Elementary commemorating National Aboriginal Veterans Day.

Find out more about the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands and Canada's commemorative poster.

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