In a neighbourhood where the street names serve as a remembrance for the men and battles of the Second World War, a class of students from Montgomery School participated in their own act of remembrance by planting tulip bulbs just days before Remembrance Day.
On Nov. 7, the Grade 3/4 class of teacher Tammy Gariepy left the school on Ortona Street and marched to the Dieppe Street home of Kristine Larson and Stan Holcomb where they planted orange tulip bulbs as part of the Liberation 75 tulip project.
The project's goal is to plant 1.1 million tulips across Canada in honour of the 1.1 million Canadians who served during the Second World War. They will bloom in spring 2020, marking the 75th anniversary of the Canadian-led liberation of the Netherlands. The nine-month campaign resulted in the death of more than 7,600 Canadian soldiers.
The couple had invited their grandson's class to do the planting as a hands-on act of remembrance. Larson visited the class ahead of time to talk about why she was getting the tulips, where they were coming from and what they symbolized.
"We talked about what we are doing and why," Gariepy said. "I think that is important for the kids to be able to think about it, reflect and have some opinions. Some of the kids could connect with great-grandparents and some of the stories their own grandparents had told them about the war. That's what we want them to do at school, to make personal connections to things."
Canadian soldiers led the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation beginning in the fall of 1944. The Dutch people continue to honour that accomplishment, as well as Canada's role in providing refuge for the royal family during the war. An initial gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs was made following the war and an ongoing gift of 20,000 bulbs each year has become an important symbol of the connection between Canada and the Dutch people.
"I planted two tulips in the front yard to remember all of the soldiers that went over to the Netherlands to fight in the war and the 75 years since World War Two ended," said student Carly Kunz. "I feel good that they (the Dutch people) still remember what the Canadians did and how they fought with all of the people who lived in Holland."
Earlier this fall, community association president Barb Biddle toured the same students through their neighbourhood, sharing stories of the street names and the people who came back from war to make their home in Montgomery Place, a post-Second World War community that was specifically created for returning veterans.
"It's highly unusual to have a neighbourhood where streets are named and battles and people," Gariepy said. "This is a unique community. Many of the kids live in this community and making that connection lets them know that remembrance is not just a picture or a Remembrance Day service that they attended. A hands-on activity makes the connection for them."
On a cold November day each child planted two bulbs in the home's front garden. Next year, they will return in the warmth of spring to see the results of their work in the form of bright, orange blooms and will again share the story of remembrance.