By Paul Best, Grade 4/5 Teacher, Lynnmour/Xá7elcha Elementary
Lynnmour/Xá7elcha Elementary School grade 4 and 5 students had a special project for this
Remembrance Day. They made ceramic poppies dedicated to a local First World War
veteran, buried in the North Vancouver Cemetery. The cemetery is located close
to the school, which made it convenient for the class to visit the grave
Students used a photograph of the
gravestone and researched the person commemorated. During computer time, the
class accessed the Canadian Government online resource that had digitised
copies of the complete service records of all those who served in the Great
Some of what students discovered
was surprising; for example, they were curious why so many of the veterans’
medical records had the abbreviation G.S.W. They used another database attached
to the Library and Archives Canada site that listed the military abbreviations
used in service to learn it stood for “Gun Shot Wounds.”
veteran buried at the cemetery, Major George H. Williams, served in both World
Wars. He had a very interesting life. In 1917, Williams enlisted in Lord
Strathcona’s Horse regiment and a year later, in the last cavalry charge of the
First World War, was wounded. During the time between the wars, he had become
one of the leaders of the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party in Saskatchewan.
He left the party for active military service in 1941, endorsing the new leader,
student found the military record of his great, great grandfather and learned
from the doctor’s notes the cause of his ancestor’s injury: a G.S.W.in the
lower left side of his back.
The class completed their act of remembrance by
visiting the gravesite of the soldier they had learned so much about. Each
ceramic poppy had a nametag attached, which detailed the rank, name, service unit,
and age of each service member. On the back of the label, the students wrote,
“I remember” and signed their own names.
Tuesday, November 9, the class, with their poppies, walked from the school to
the cemetery to honour these brave service members at their final resting place.