ODSS student wins prestigious Vimy Pilgrimage Award

February 13, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Orangeville District Secondary School student Katharine Kanters will be taking a trip to France this April after being named the recipient of a Vimy Pilgrimage Award.  

The award is sponsored by the Vimy Foundation. Award winners will be visiting the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, museums, cemeteries, and historic battlefields. 

A total of 20 students from across the country were selected for the 2020 program.

Students who applied for the award were required to submit a 500-word essay describing their volunteer work, a 500-word essay on a specific question or subject posted in the application form, a personal statement video, and a resumé detailing achievements, awards, and notable activities. 

Applicants also required a letter of reference from a teacher, guidance counselor, school principal, or service or volunteer club.

Katharine has always had an interest in history. She plans on attending Queen’s University next year and majoring in history with a goal of becoming a teacher.

“I’ve had many great history teachers,” Katharine said, citing a former teacher who inspired her. “I attended Hillcrest Private School in Orangeville. There’s a teacher there, Larry Cooper, and he really inspires his students to become active learners of Canadian history. He got me passionate about it.”

Katharine learned about the Vimy Award while doing research on-line.

“For this award we started with a resumé, a personal statement video, an essay on community involvement and volunteering, and an essay on Canada’s innovations during the First World War,” Katharine explained. “My history essay was on blood transfusions and how a Canadian doctor introduced transfusions on the front lines.  First I was told I made it to the interview stage and then there was an interview. We were contacted after the interviews and notified we won.”

ODSS teacher librarian, Lisa Unger, helped Katharine prepare her application.

Ms. Unger has taken student groups to the Vimy Memorial on a couple of occasions and is familiar with the site.

“I helped her do some of the research,” Ms. Unger explained. “She had some ideas, and I said, ‘I think this idea may work best, and we should look for more information.’ I helped her with some for the format like some of the citations. Katie is really driven – she is capable of doing anything,” she said of her student.  

The battle at Vimy Ridge is considered a major military achievement and a turning point in Canada’s national identity. It was the first time the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together. The battle lasted from April 9-17, 1917 with Canadian forces taking 10,500 casualties. 

Winners of the Vimy Pilgrimage Award come from provinces across the country.

The group will travel to France and visit from April 2 – 10.


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