Abhayjeet Singh Sachal from Seaquam Secondary School is among the 17 High school students to have won the Vimy Pilgrimage Award and will travel to Europe in April 2017 to learn about Canada’s First World War legacy, participating in the commemorations for the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. Out of hundreds of applicants from across the country Abhayjeet Sachal, 15 of Surrey was selected to participate in this program, which recognizes the actions of young people who demonstrate outstanding service, positive contributions, and leadership in their communities.

The Vimy Pilgrimage Award consists of a fully funded, week-long educational program in France and Belgium to study Canada’s tremendous First World War effort. This week, scheduled for April 7 – 16, 2017 and organized by the Vimy Foundation, will include classroom education and daily field trips to important First World War sites. 17 Canadian students have received the award, and will be joined by an additional 8 students from Belgium, Great Britain, France, and Germany, for a truly international educational experience. This story would not only highlight the accomplishments of these young community leaders, but also builds into a larger context about the upcoming activities to mark the centennial of Vimy Ridge in 2017.

The 25 winning students will attend the commemorations for the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 2017 at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France along with tens of thousands of other Canadians. The 100th anniversary of Vimy coincides with the 150th birthday of Canada in 2017 and will be one of the most highly recognized milestones for Canada next year.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was not simply a First World War battle; students will learn how this event was Canada’s coming of age. As Vimy Foundation Executive Director Jeremy Diamond notes, “It was a seminal moment in our history, a victory that helped give us our own voice around the world”.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge, during the First World War, is Canada’s most celebrated military victory — a sometimes mythologized symbol of the birth of Canadian national pride and awareness. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps fighting together for the first time, attacked the ridge from 9 to 12 April, 1917 and succeeded in capturing it from the German army. More than 10,500 Canadians were killed and wounded in the assault. Today an iconic white memorial atop the ridge commemorates the battle and honours the 11,285 Canadians killed in France throughout the war who have no known graves.

Working with the Government of Canada, the Vimy Foundation is building a Visitor Education Centre at the Vimy Memorial site in France, so that students and visitors can better understand this pivotal moment in Canadian history. This trip is supported by the Peter Cundill Foundation with program partners EF Educational Tours and Canada’s History.

It may be recalled that Abhayjeet had also been selected for the prestigious Arctic expedition in July this year ,organized by Students on Ice. He joined the Students on Ice Arctic Expedition from July 21 to August 5, 2016. He received a full $11,900 scholarship from the US Embassy to take part in the expedition.

The participants travelled to the eastern Canadian Arctic and western Greenland and they learnt about the poles from a global perspective. The expedition involved a team of more than 100 high school and university students from around the world.

Guided by a team of scientists, elders, artists and educators, they developed a deeper connection to the land, culture and people of the Arctic as they engaged in hands-on research, listened to elders, visited remote Arctic communities, observed wildlife, hiked through Auyuittuq National Park, bridged cultures and fostered understanding with youth from around the world.

They learnt about the impacts of climate change, the importance of ocean conservation, and other important topics, grounded in an understanding and appreciation for the people who call the Arctic home.

Since Students on Ice (SOI) began nearly 16 years ago, more than 2,500 students and educators from 52 countries have participated in SOI’s life-changing journeys. They form an alumni family that is connected by their experiences and provide ongoing support to fellow expeditioners as mentors, teachers, and lifelong friends.

IN 2013, Abhayjeet gave a TEDx talk called the Theory of Creativity that allowed him to pursue his passion for public speaking. Shortly after the talk, Deloitte Incorporation sponsored him to speak at schools about getting involved. This year, he started a Speech Club at his school to help students with public speaking.

He is also an active member of the Debate and Model United Nations Club, where he went on different delegations to debate on topics such as climate change and Arctic sovereignty. He is also very involved with the school’s Environmental Club, where he built a rain garden and led an environmental awareness presentation at a local elementary school.

In his spare time, Abhayjeet loves playing instruments such as the piano, tabla and harmonium. He said his life would be incomplete without sports such as tennis, badminton, curling and hockey. Since the age of seven, he has played hockey in the Surrey Minor Hockey League. Above all, he is very passionate about volunteering.

“I combined this passion with my experience in filming and editing when I took part in a Reel Youth Film Program, where I made short films to raise awareness of ageism. I also volunteer with organizations such as Road2Wellness, where we raise funds for hygiene-related issues in developing nations, and Students Without Borders, where we raised money to build a well in Kenya,” he added.

Abhayjeet said: “I am inspired by not only my parents, who push me to do better, but by my creativity and how I can always find creative solutions to problems around me, and I hope to use this to solve a problem that I will soon see first-hand: climate change.” A good role model, indeed for the youth.

 

 Harpreet Singh