Wetaskiwin Clear Vista School students, city council representatives, and Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian legion members gathered in front of the school on Oct. 28 to plant 700 red and white tulips for the 70th Anniversary of the Dutch-Canadian Friendship Tulip Gardens.
The tulip gardens are linked to the Second World War liberation of the Netherlands and as a symbol of appreciation, 100,000 Dutch tulip bulbs were gifted to Canada from the Dutch Royal Family in thanks for the role Canadian soldiers played.
Clear Vista School is one of 140 recipients across the county able to plant one of the Friendship Gardens, which are symbolically connected to the 70th anniversary garden that will be planted in Ottawa by the National Capital Commission and showcased during the 2016 Canadian Tulip Festival.
“We are here today to plant 700 red and white tulips in honour of those involved in the liberation of the Netherlands,” Clear Vista Garden Committee member Sharon Pahl told the crowd, prior to the planting.
Legion branch manager Margreet JansenVandoorn, who was born in Holland after the war also took to the podium to explain to the students how tulips and the liberation of the Netherlands affected her county and childhood.
As a child JansenVandoorn heard stories about the war from adults in her life and says their fears and memories impacted how she saw the world.
“They told us about the heroes … the Canadians,” said JansenVandoorn.
At Clear Vista the tulips are being planted in the pattern of the Canadian Flag and JansenVandoorn brought Holland’s flag to the ceremony because of how significant a country’s flag is to it’s people.
JansenVandoorn told the students during the war the people of Holland faced punishment or even death if they were caught with their flag due to Nazi occupation.
JansenVandoorn’s family also lived in an area where heavy fighting took place and she says without the Canadian soldiers there is a chance she would not even exist today.
“That’s why, from Holland, I’m so pleased I could be here today,” said JansenVandoorn.
JansenVandoorn also informed the crowd many Dutch people were starving during the war and ate tulip bulbs to survive.
Wetaskiwin mayor Bill Elliot also stepped up to say a few words.
Elliot says boys and girls these days worship superheroes; Canadian soldiers are the country’s superheroes. “I would like to say thanks you so much for what you’re doing to remember our heroes.”