Langley’s Kyah Kang earned herself a chance to learn and be immersed in Canadian history – ahead of Remembrance Day.
The 17-year-old Credo Christian student is one of 20 from across the country invited to the nation’s capital for a week that includes daily visits to important memorials, museums, conferences, and discussions.
But for a variety of reasons, the Murrayville teen, and some of the others, are attending virtually.
Kyah earned this special invite as a Vimy Pilgrimage Award recipient. The award recognizes actions of young people who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to volunteer work through positive contributions, notable deeds, or bravery that benefits their peers, school, community, province or country.
In Kyah’s case, the “prolific musician” is one of three from B.C. selected, and she was picked by the Vimy Foundation because of her contributions in her community and school, said Vimy Foundation spokesperson Guillaume Bouchard Labonte.
“For example, she plays music in local senior homes and mentors other youth in music,” he said, noting the teenager also volunteers at a vet clinic.
The aspiring doctor also has what Bouchard Labonte describes as “a special relationship with elderly people as it relates to history/commemoration/memory. It’s one of the reasons why she was selected for the educational program, which is heavily based on developing historical consciousness and critical thinking.”
A student from Kyah’s school was selected a few years ago and did a presentation on her experience.
“It sounded like an amazing opportunity to learn more about Canada’s valuable First World War contributions and to grow as a person, so I applied,” she said.
When Kyan learned she’d been selected, she admits to “literally jumping up and down and running around the house.”
The Vimy Pilgrimage is an educational program to study Canada’s First World War effort. The program runs Monday through Friday, Nov. 8 to 12.
While most excited about seeing the Canada War Museum, albeit virtually, Kyan said she’s “so excited to experience everything the program has to offer.”
This year, since she’s not attending Remembrance Day in Ottawa, she plans to be at the Murrayville services with her family.
The Vimy Foundation is a leading voice on the First World War in Canada. The foundation works to preserve and promote Canada’s ongoing legacy of leadership as symbolized by the First World War victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a milestone where Canada came of age and was recognized on the world stage.
Kyah Kang: I am a Gr 12 student in Langley, and I wrote a biography and a poem about Frederick Orlando Roberts, a soldier in the First World War who died In Ypres, Belgium when he was 18 years old, for a project. He was a resident of Langley and went to Murrayville Elementary.
Roberts Road named for local soldier
Frederick Orlando Roberts, or Fred, was born in Kensington, a suburb of London, England. He came into the world on December 25, 1897, the only son of Frederick and Martha Roberts. The young family moved to Langley Prairie, British Columbia, Canada. Mr. Roberts took on the role of postman and held that role until his death. Fred attended Belmont Superior School (later called Murrayville Elementary) and was described as being a loyal and selfless person, always looking out for his friends. The dark-haired youth soon joined the Vancouver High School 101st Cadet Corps with his schoolmate Ed Berry.
On July 30, 1915, Fred signed his name on the dotted line at Duke of Connaught High School when he was just 17 years old, lying about his age.
He joined the Canadian Pioneers (3rd division) and he travelled overseas to Europe, first to England and then to mainland Europe.
His battalion was assigned to the duty of reinforcing the trenches on the Western Front, working with the engineers at Ypres, Belgium.
On June 3, 1916, an enemy shell struck Fred, killing him instantly during the heated Battle of Mt. Sorrel, part of the infamous Ypres Salient. He was only 18 years old when he died, scarcely a man.
Allan Hill-Tout, his fellow soldier, writing to Mr. Roberts after Fred’s death, described him as “always most willing to help with any work to be done, he never grumbled at our hardships and he was liked by every man that knew him. He had splendid nerve and never shrank back at any dangerous work.”
His body was retrieved a few days later and buried by some of his comrades, but his grave marker was destroyed as a result of the rest of the Ypres Salient that followed. He is remembered on the Menin Gate, a grand memorial at Ypres that recognizes all of the lost, graveless soldiers from Salient, as well as on a monument in the Fort Langley Cemetery.
As a final nod of thanks to Fred, what is now called 56th Avenue was named ‘Roberts Road’ in his honour.
Did you also fall asleep to rain on the roof,
a wet symphony accompanying your dreams?
Did you also walk to school, feeling the sun
break through the dogwoods, filtering down in streams?
Did you also run down Yale Road, past 5 Corners
to the General Store to help sort the mail?
Did you live in my house, in the upstairs room,
the window showing the field, the forest, the hay bales?
Did you also love going down to the Fraser River,
attempting to skip rocks into the bright sunset?
Did you also like dancing in the summer showers,
secretly loving the feel of your clothes soaking wet?
You were just a normal boy, I a normal girl.
Alike yet different, both in so many ways.
You lived under constant attack, I’ve never been in peril.
I have a clean home, while you lived in the dirt for days.
A mere thirty days older than I am today,
you signed your name on the dotted line, fate sealed.
A mere three hundred ten days later, that cursed day,
you were struck down, to lay forever on the battlefield.
You gave up your childhood, traded toy guns for a real one.
You left your parents, your friends, the life you had started.
Yet we don’t remember you, or the youthful life lost.
We don’t remember your bravery, so lionhearted.
“It was so long ago – let’s move on already!” they say.
“Can’t we learn about something less violent and sad?”
But if we dismiss your sacrifice, it says we don’t care.
That you died in vain, that our peace doesn’t make us glad.
I can’t imagine leaving everything behind,
The least we can do is pause and remember, grateful.
Stand in silence, commemorate your life, much too short.
Learn from the mistakes that caused your death, so hateful.
Even though we might’ve been so alike, you are a hero.
A kind, caring, selfless boy full of life suddenly gone,
one I cannot and will not ever forget.
Frederick Orlando Roberts, you will be remembered.
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