After almost a year of planning, Kelowna Veendam Sister City Association’s preparations for a delegation from Kelowna to visit its sister city Veendam Holland in 2015, to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands is starting to take shape.
A delegation of approximately 40 will consist of the Mayor of the City of Kelowna, members of The Kelowna Veendam Sister City Association, and Veterans. KLO Middle School will be sending twenty of their students, two chaperones, accompanied by small contingent of interested parents with the delegation. In preparation for the student cultural exchange, two Winkler Prins School (Veendam) teachers were in Kelowna last week to work out the logistics and discuss the cultural exchange itinerary with the KLO School Staff and the student’s parents. The KLO students will be hosted by the parents of the students of Winkler Prins School. A delegation of Dutch students from Winkler Prins School will return to pay a reciprocal visit to Kelowna in May 2016.
While in Veendam the students will visit and interface with Winkler Prins teachers and students. In addition, they will visit the historic Westerbork Concentration Camp (holocaust museum) where the Nazis concentrated Jewish prisoners during WWII, and prepared them for shipment by train to their last destination, the extermination camps such as Auschwitz. They will also take part in a tour of Amsterdam to learn of its cultural history, view the many canals and historic windmill sites.
The KLO student’s and members of the Kelowna delegation will take part in the “70th Anniversary of the Liberation of The Netherlands” events which includes a “Remembrance Services” in Veendam on the 4th of May and Liberation Ceremonies on the 5th of May 2015. A Liberation Ceremony takes place in Groningen, where Veterans and school children are involved in a wreath laying ceremony in memory of the fallen, and plant species of Canadian trees in the Canadian Liberation Memorial Forest dedicated by the people of the Netherlands to Canadian Veterans who fought for their freedom.
Leaving Veendam the Kelowna delegation and students will finish off their tour of the Netherlands by visiting other points of interest such as the Apenheul Monkey Zoo, Apeldoorn, Arnheim’s famous bridge the allied forces saved from being blown up by the German Forces in 1944 depicted in the movie “A Bridge Too Far” before visiting the beautiful City of Nijmegen. The group will also visit Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery, plus Overloon Liberty Park War Museum which has the largest collection of Allied and German fighting equipment in Europe. The 35 acre site was where the largest tank battle on Dutch soil took place in the autumn of 1944, where over 2500 allied soldiers died. Most of the displays are original fighting equipment left on the battle field after the fighting.
The group will visit The Hague, the site of the International Justice Court, part of the Charter of the United Nations Justice System dealing with International War Crimes. A visit to the “Madurodam” a fascinating miniature model city depicting life and commerce of the Netherlands. A tour through the colorful tulip fields will round out the cultural visit before returning home.