Sarah Shruiff didn't know her great-grandfather fought in the First World War until she discovered his Vimy Ridge pilgrimage passport.
"I had no idea until Christmas when I was talking to my grandmother, about it" said the third-year Lakehead University outdoor recreation, parks and tourism student.
Shruiff is one of 11 students heading to Europe April 25 for a 10-day tour of the battlefields of the First World War, and some Second World War sites as well.
"I think this trip is an amazing opportunity because not only is it the centennial of the First World War, we're going to be taking part in a lot of different ceremonies," said Shruiff.
In addition to visiting the Vimy Ridge site, the group will also attend one of the daily Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate and they'll be in Amsterdam for the Liberation Day ceremony on May 5.
Liberation Day, celebrated in the Netherlands, recognizes the end of the country's Nazi-occupation, largely accomplished by Canadian troops.
"It's not often you get to take part in something like that," said Shruiff.
The trip was inspired by outdoor recreation, parks and tourism associate professor Harvey Lemelin's own pilgrimage through Normandy and the western front.
"I thought it would be a great opportunity to introduce students to what is being done for the centennial and see some of these sites like Vimy Ridge," he said.
Many of the students also have family links to the battlefields; their ancestors participated in the wars.
Lemelin said the trip helps to bring history to life.
"I think that we've done a lot of reading," he said. "It truly needs to be experienced. Vimy Ridge is one of the most spectacular places I've seen. I understand the carnage that went on there, but it's a very spiritual place."
The students will be conducting research on the trip, interviewing visitors to the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.
Other video interviews, updates and blogs will be posted on the Battlefield Tourism website
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