The donated panels now stand proudly outside of Upper Sumas Elementary School. (Ashley Martens photo)

The donated panels now stand proudly outside of Upper Sumas Elementary School. (Ashley Martens photo)

Dutch Canadian Liberation Society donates commemorative panels to Abbotsford school

Upper Sumas Elementary School receives artwork highlighting students work with Dutch Heritage Day

Dutch Heritage Day is honoured in Canada on May 5, and the local connection between Canada and The Netherlands received a special bump last month at Upper Sumas Elementary School.

The Dutch Canadian Liberation Society heard about the in-class projects created by teacher Debbie Mar’s Grade 3/4 class last year and decided to give the class, the school and the surrounding community something to remember the work of the participating students.

The DCLS president Adriana Zylmans and the vice-president Erik van der Ven sprung to action after hearing about the accolades Mar’s class received. The pair got in touch with her and offered to create panels honouring their work and showcasing the historical significance of the friendship between Canada and Holland.

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The panels now are located on the school grounds for the public to view. Mar said she is thrilled the students work can live on in these panels.

“My students last year cannot look at a tulip in the same way without remembering this,” she said of the project. “They met some veterans at the poster launch, they’ve met an Auschwitz survivor and the veterans are truly grateful for the students work. That really overwhelmed me, I was really moved to see children remembering – that’s the greatest gift we can give our veterans.”

VP van der Ven said he’s pleased to hear that more and more people are admiring the panels and learning more about history.

“Hopefully a lot of people walk by and take the time to stop and read when they’re in that neighborhood,” he said.

Mar said she’s very excited and proud to see the work be showcased in a unique way.

RELATED: Abbotsford elementary class celebrated as guests of honour at Veterans Affairs ceremony

Dutch Heritage Day was created and recognized starting in 2019 and May 5 marks the anniversary of the liberation of Holland from Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Canadian forces were tasked with pushing the Germans out of Holland. More than 7,600 Canadian military personnel were killed during the fighting in the Netherlands.

Following the Second World War, over 200,000 Dutch immigrants settled across Canada, contributing to Canadian society an all walks of life. Today over one million Canadians can trace their heritage to the Netherlands.

In appreciation for this tremendous sacrifice, the Dutch began to send tens of thousands of tulip bulbs every year – the Dutch National flower, followed by the gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs that were given by the Royal family after the war. Each year, Canadians make pilgrimage to the Netherlands, and the Dutch children along with their parents lay flowers and tend graves of the cemeteries and memorials.

RELATED: Abbotsford educator receives Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching Excellence



(Ashley Martens photo)

(Ashley Martens photo)

(Ashley Martens photo)

(Ashley Martens photo)