VIU Partners with the City of Nanaimo to Recognize Soldiers Killed in First World War

October 3, 2016 - 2:30pm

The names will appear in a digital display at City recreation facilities as part of The World Remembers Project

For 44 days this fall, when people walk into the Nanaimo Aquatic Centre, Beban Park Pool and Oliver Woods Recreation Centre, they will be greeted by 19-inch TV screens displaying the names of thousands of soldiers killed in 1916, during the First World War.

The screens are part of The World Remembers, an international remembrance, education and reconciliation project begun by Canadian actor and director R.H. Thomson. Vancouver Island University (VIU) joined the project last year, showcasing the names at the Welcome Centre at the Nanaimo campus. This year, the University has partnered with the City to ensure broader exposure for the project in the greater Nanaimo community. The display will begin on September 29 and finish on November 11, running from 8:30 am – 7 pm each day.

The goal of The World Remembers project is to get people to stop and reflect for a moment on the humanity of all the men and women who lost their lives during the First World War.

“A personal connection to the almost unimaginable history of WWI is what we want to provide with the names display,” says R.H. Thomson. “One hundred years after, every man or woman who lost their life deserves to be individually remembered. Both new Canadians and Canadians whose families lived here in 1914-1918 can search on the website for a relative that was killed and find the hour and minute that their name will appear in the displays here in Nanaimo, or at other display locations in Canada and other nations.”

Over the five centenary years of WW1 – between 2014 and 2018 – the initiative is displaying the names of soldiers killed in the coinciding year a century ago. This year, the display will show the names of nearly 600,000 soldiers killed in 1916 from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Slovenia and the former British Indian Army.

“The sheer volume of names is important for people to comprehend, and the fact that it cuts across all nationalities,” says Dr. Stephen Davies, a VIU History professor and director of the Canadian Letters and Images Project, an online archive of the Canadian war experience, as told through the letters and images of Canadians. “It demonstrates that loss across nations. It’s important for VIU to participate in this project – because we already have the Canadian Letters and Images Project here, I think it’s a natural fit with what the University is already doing.”

The screens will show the names in sets of nine, with the Canadian name in the middle. No names will be repeated. Each Canadian name will be seen for two minutes while the international names are seen for 25 seconds. Each quarter hour, all the names will fade and be replaced by WW1 photos for 25 seconds.

“As a proud citizen of Canada and a member of the Royal Canadian Legion, I believe we must constantly remember the men and women who gave their lives for freedom,” says Nanaimo Mayor Bill McKay. “These people contributed around the world. We must never forget their efforts. The City of Nanaimo is proud to be involved in this initiative. Please take the time to remember our fallen during this 44-day remembrance.”

More than 60 schools, universities, museums, libraries and other organizations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the United States, Germany and Switzerland are participating in The World Remembers project this year.

For more information and to find the exact minute that any name will appear, visit The World Remembers website.

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MEDIA CONTACT: 

Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250-740-6288 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: jenn.mcgarrigle@viu.ca | T: @VIUNews


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