Photojournalist Racheal McCaig will be representing Canada at the official Vimy Ridge 100th Anniversary celebrations in France in April, exhibiting a collection of photographs of the monument, the trenches and the tunnels.
The collection is entitled “Je Me Souviens: Vimy 100” and features 18 images that McCaig took on two trips to the historical site.
McCaig, who has photographed celebrities like Julianne Moore, Daniel Radcliffe and Hilary Swank, among others, says she originally took pictures of the monument on a family trip to France in summer of 2014.
One of the photographs caught the eye of the Pierre Senechal, the Mayor of Givenchy en Gohelle. Vimy is located in Givenchy en Gohelle. The image, titled “To You We Throw the Torch” has become the face of the exhibit and McCaig says it is symbolic of remembrance.
“It really is, just a reminder of the sacrifices that were made, and that it’s our responsibility as the following generations to hang on to that memory and remember why they fought and why we’re here,” she said.
After she was commissioned to create the exhibition by the French government, McCaig visited Vimy Ridge one more time.
“What I really tried to capture was the experience of seeing Vimy Ridge for the first time. But also understanding our history. The images are both of the monument itself – which is absolutely incredible – but also in the trenches and in the tunnels that our soldiers created and fought through, through World War I,” she said.
Canadians remember the significance of Vimy Ridge every time we look at a $20 bill or flip through a Canadian passport. The monument is a beautiful marble memorial in honour of Canadian troops that fought and died for our freedom during WWI in France.
While participating in the celebrations, McCaig will meet Queen Elizabeth and the President of France. She says she is very excited and honoured to be representing Canada at such an important anniversary:
“I am going to be meeting a lot of truly incredible people. It’s really so thrilling and so overwhelming. I’m like a 10-year-old kid. I’m so excited!”
Following the exhibition in France, “Je Me Souviens” will make its way to Toronto in June to kick off its Canadian tour and to take part in Canada 150 Celebrations. The tour will include Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax, and Canadians will be able to enjoy free admission to the exhibit.
As for Remembrance Day, McCaig says it’s important for younger generations to take the time to pay respect and remember.
“Whether you disagree or agree with why they fought, the reason you are allowed to have your opinion and the reason that we have our freedom is because they fought. And for that reason alone we owe them at least those two minutes respect on November 11,” she said.