This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the First World War battle of Passchendaele in Belgium and an Inuk from Nunavut had a front-row seat for the Remembrance Day ceremony.
“Only a few people ever get to do this,” said Teghan Angulalik.
“This is a great opportunity to help me understand more about our history and what happened in the past.”
The 16-year-old from Cambridge Bay was there as part of the Canadian delegation, which gifted a monument to recognize the soldiers who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of the war.
The young cadet travelled with the Canadian military to various sites and allied battlegrounds in the Flanders area.
(The Brooding Soldier’s monument in Belgium. Photo: Beverly Andrews/APTN)
She says she is looking forward to sharing what she has learned with her community.
“A lot of soldiers didn’t return home,” Angulalik said. “A lot of soldiers took their last steps here.”
The monument is known as Canada Gate. An impressive steel structure designed by Nova Scotia artist Nancy Keating.
Canadians are still remembered fondly here for their role in the battle of Passchendaele in November 1917. The troops relieved Australian and New Zealand forces and cleared the Germans out.
It took the lives of more than 4,000 Canadian soldiers and wounded 12,000.
“Canada Gate is meant to mark the sacred grounds here at Passhendaele,” said veteran Ken Hynes, curator of the Halifax Army Museum.
Indigenous soldiers were among the casualties.
“We did lose many, many young warriors here,” said Steven Ross, a retired private representing the Saskatchewan First Nations Veterans Association.
“The people that never returned never went back home to their families – children, grandchildren – that are lying here in these lands, they are the true warriors,” he said.
(The grave marker of Cree soldier Alex Decoteau who was killed in the battle of Passchendaele in October 1917. Photo: Beverly Andrews/APTN)
It may be a hundred years later, but it’s not unusual to still find shrapnel in the fields. A stark reminder of the lives lost in the now-calm countryside.
“It’s important to learn this type of stuff so we can teach the next generation,” said Angulalik. “So the memory stays.”