The long friendship between Canada and the Netherlands was celebrated once again Thursday morning at West Kent Elementary.

And it was done in the traditional way, as students planted 700 tulip bulbs outside their school.

The students are learning why that important bond exists between the two countries.


Students at West Kent Elementary had 700 tulip bulbs to plant. (CBC)

"I thought it was truly amazing just to see all of us here together and just thinking about this one thing, that Canadians came to the Netherlands and helped free their country," said Grade 6 student Clair deJong.

She helped plant the 700 red and white tulip bulbs at the school. Many more are being planted in gardens across the country.

It's to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands from Nazi occupation, largely by Canadian troops.

"We learned that every year, the Netherlands sends tulips to Canada and thanks for the soldiers we sent there to free their country when Hitler was trying to take over the world," said William Cogswell, also in Grade 6.


Grade 6 student Clair deJong called it "amazing" that everyone came to remember the connection between Canada and the Netherlands. (CBC)

Also there to plant their own tulips were Islanders who were part of that history, a group of veterans and others that included some who could pass on their first-hand experiences to the students.

Andy Vos was a young boy in the Netherlands during the war years. "Soldiers were always there, and you could be stopped any time on the street," he said. "I was always a little nervous."

Lloyd Gates was a Canadian soldier who marched into a country largely deprived of food and freedom.


Some of the 700 tulip bulbs planted at West Kent Elementary. (CBC)

"It was terrible really," said Gates. "The people were starving, and it was so cold that winter and damp and everything, I nearly froze to death myself."

Now, 70 years later, both Gates and Vos were pleased to be with the students today, planting bulbs.

"I feel very, very honoured," said Gates. "First time I ever did this so, I hope they do this every year."

"It's a great thing because they know, and I think they can realize that war is not good, and we should have this friendship between countries," said Vos of the students.


Veteran Lloyd Gates took part in the liberation of The Netherlands, while Andy Vos was a boy in the country during the war. (CBC)

Grade 6 student Lilly O'Reilly agreed.

"It's a big sign of friendship, and maybe if this can happen with all the other countries, this will stop war. If every other country came together and did things like send each other thousands of tulips every year," she said.

"We have this special bond. And it was very special, very amazing to see all of us planting bulbs, and they're going to grow in the Spring. And it'll be beautiful."