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Juno Beach partners with Dufferin initiative to commemorate D-Day landings

February 7, 2019   ·   0 Comments


The heritage education organization “Defining Moments Canada,” which rose from the Dufferin Digital History Project envisioned by Neil Orford and Blake Heathcote, has announced a national commemorative project in partnership with the Juno Beach Centre for 2019. 

The interactive, national history education site, will mark the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings and share the stories of Canadians’ contributions to the D-Day landings with Juno 75: “Above and Beyond.” 

“Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada” is “a new and innovative way to teach and commemorate Canada’s history using twenty-first century digital tools and storytelling skills.” Its inaugural project was the national commemoration of the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic in Canada.

The  Juno 75 project will focus on twenty Canadians from across the country who were involved in the war effort in Normandy and beyond. Media representative for “Defining Moments Canada,” Tatiana Zamozdra, says the site will be “drawing from the extensive interview archive of Testaments of Honour.” She says the goal “is to inspire young Canadians to discover the lives of those who participated in one of Canada’s best-known battles.” The site is receiving support and deep educational resources from both the Juno Beach Centre Association and Veterans’ Affairs Canada.

In a statement released this week, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence spoke about the new initiative:

“As the Government of Canada marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy this year, we are pleased to support Defining Moments Canada, through the Commemorative Partnership Program, in this meaningful project to honour the selfless servicemen and women who served during the Battle of Normandy. This initiative will connect Canadian youth with the faces and experiences of those who fought for our freedom during the Second World War. It is inspiring to know that these students will be able to learn about the courage, determination and sacrifice of so many brave Canadians and share it with their peers.”

In a press release, Mike Bechthold, executive director of the Juno Beach Centre Association, says the Centre “is excited to partner with ‘Defining Moments Canada’ on Juno75: ‘Above and Beyond.’ “ He says, “This project, with its focus on telling stories and connecting today’s youth with yesterday’s heroes, forms an integral part of the JBCA’s Juno75 educational offerings.” 

“The 20 Canadians we will be profiling are just the beginning,” says Neil Orford, program leader at “Defining Moments Canada” and former Centre Dufferin High School teacher. “We want students to share the stories they discover, so that we can honour these untold stories from unheard voices.”

Neil Orford says, “Defining Moments Canada promotes interdisciplinary understanding of our shared Canadian history. In our work with both Heritage Canada and (now) Veteran’s Affairs, it is clear they believe this approach as well. Despite efforts in many Provinces to reduce the significance of history in our curricula, we are excited that the Federal Government still places value and relevance in supporting opportunities which promote historical understanding among our young people.”

Mr. Orford says, “Juno75 is just such an opportunity.” He is proud that the team at “Defining Moments Canada” is comprised almost entirely of “young Canadian historians under the age of 30, and their commitment is to inspire the next generation of great storytellers with our rich engaging digital projects.”



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