Writing about the “right way” to mark the anniversary of WWI and the controversy in Britain, historian John Weir may have figured out why the Canadian government has been quiet about initiating or supporting any WWI programs or events. He writes about it in What is the “Right Way” to commemorate the First World War?, an article for Archive.ca.
Mr. Weir theorizes that the timing of a federal election in 2015 and the government’s commitment to balancing the budget leaves little money to spend on WWI events. Fiscal restraint coupled with the government’s disappointment with the reception its War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations received may have discouraged them from funding WWI activities.
Plenty of ways to educate Canadians
Even without government funding, Mr. Weir suggests that there are still plenty of ways to educate Canadians about our role in WWI. He writes, “It strikes me that in the absence of government funding and government direction, Canadian citizens will be empowered to promote and initiate their own commemorative activities at the local and national levels.”
Opportunity for genealogists to commemorate WWI
This absence of national events opens the door for genealogy societies to create projects to preserve our military history and educate about the people who served.
As genealogists, we are perfectly suited to set up programs for students to research and learn about our military history.
Societies can create a section on their website that will help young people learn about young soldiers’ lives. Lee County Genealogical Society has a Young Genealogy Education section on their website that could serve as a good model.
We can also partner with local community organizations. An example of a community initiative is the Kitchener (Ontario) Public Library’s soldier information card project. In a Genealogy Ensemble blog post about this initiative, I suggested that genealogy societies should approach and partner with their local library to find out if they hold treasures that need to be digitized.
As individuals, we can research and write the stories about our ancestors who served in WWI, submit these stories to local genealogy or historical societies, print copies for relatives, and/or post them online.
Copyright © 2014, Gail Dever.