A Saskatchewan woman is one of a handful of Canadian teachers selected to tour the beaches of Normandy this summer.
21 Canadian History teachers are travelling to Normandy as part of the Juno Beach Centre Professional Development program. Wendy Shabatoski is the only teacher from Saskatchewan chosen this year.
She left for France on Sunday.
In an interview on CBC's The Morning Edition Wednesday, Shabatoski told guest-host Stefani Langenegger the experience has been surprising.
"Everywhere I have travelled — that is always in the back of my head —- just the devastation that happened on that soil."
During the school year, Shabatoski teaches grade 10, 11 and 12 history at Kamsack Comprehensive Institute. She applied for the program so she could have personal experience to draw on when teaching her students about Canada's involvement in the world wars.
"I wanted to deepen my understanding and actually see the places I teach about," said Shabatoski, "Say Vimy Ridge, the students always ask me how big it is, like 'is it like a mountain, is it a hill?' And of course there is always Google Images and things like that, but I still didn't have the full understanding, and now I do."
Juno Beach Centre brings teachers to France
As part of the program, the Juno Beach Centre brings teachers to France and tours them through historical military sites.
Shabatoski has studied Canada's contributions to the world wars extensively, but said it has been an intense experience seeing the lasting impact those contributions have had on France.
"To be in these towns and see maple leafs and monuments set up for the Canadians in remembrance has been very moving."
Shabatoski has created a Facebook page called 'Mrs. Shab in France' and is updating it throughout her journey.
She said she is looking forward to using what she learned in her classroom.
"Just to expand on what I have already started in Kamsack and always gathering primary sources and eventually I would like to bring students here."
For her next stop, Shabatoski and her fellow teachers will head to Juno Beach Thursday.