PEI

School's memorial tulips honour friendship with the Netherlands

Students at West Kent Elementary admired the tulips they planted and placed miniature Canadian and Dutch flags in the ground, all to honour the 70-year friendship between Canada and the Netherlands.

Students sing songs to commemorate 70th anniversary of Dutch liberation by Canadian soldiers

Tulips planted at West Kent Elementary bloom in the school yard. (Patrick Faller/CBC )

Students at West Kent Elementary admired the tulips they planted and placed miniature Canadian/Dutch flags in the ground, all to honour the 70-year friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. 

It's a symbol of peace between us and our friendship. It's long and forever-lasting and I feel like it's going to carry on.— Grade 6 student Claire de Jong

They also sang songs about peace at a special ceremony Friday afternoon in the Dutch Canadian Friendship Garden, which is in front of the school and now in full bloom.

In the crowd were several veterans of the Second World War, some who served in the Netherlands during the liberation, when Canadian soldiers led a charge to defeat the Nazis and end their occupation of the country.

Veterans thanked

One veteran spoke to the crowd while Andy Vos, a Charlottetown man who was a young boy in the Netherlands during the Second World War, got up to thank him and all Canadian soldiers who served.

"I think it had a lot of meaning to it, that the veterans were here," said Grade 6 student Claire de Jong.

In November 2015, the students planted 700 red and white tulip bulbs. Teachers have been including specific lessons about the liberation of the Netherlands in their curriculum, and parents say the garden has become very important to the students.

Veterans took part in the ceremony at West Kent Elementary to honour the friendship created between Canada and the Netherlands during the Second World War. (Patrick Faller/CBC)

Special presentation from Dutch students

De Jong, along with several other students of Dutch heritage, presented the veterans with special pins. On the pin is a picture of both the Canadian and Dutch flags, along with the words, "Two countries, one spirit."

West Kent Elementary students take part in a ceremony to honour the 70-year friendship between Canada and the Netherlands. (Patrick Faller/CBC)

"My father and brother are both Dutch. We got to present a pin to show the 70th anniversary of how Canada liberated the Netherlands," said de Jong.

"It's kind of a big celebration."

Many parents looked on as the students closed the ceremony with another song: a children's song about unity and coming together in peace.

"It feel really happy. I'm filled with joy. It's a symbol of peace between us and our friendship. It's long and forever-lasting and I feel like it's going to carry on," said de Jong. 

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