The Vimy Foundation was established in 2006 and is a charity focused on providing educational resources and raising awareness of the role Canada played in the First World War with the goal of creating a better future, informed by the past. We got to speak to Caitlin Bailey, their executive director, to find out more about them.
Describe your charity/non-profit/volunteer work in a few sentences.
The Vimy Foundation was established in 2006 and is a charity focused on providing educational resources and raising awareness of the role Canada played in the First World War with the goal of creating a better future, informed by the past.
In 2022, the Foundation amalgamated with the Canadian Centre for the Great War, a Montreal-based community museum dedicated to the First World War which shares the same vision of making First World War history accessible to all.
What problem does it aim to solve?
The Foundation works to preserve and promote Canada’s ongoing legacy of leadership and all activities originated by the Foundation have this aspect in mind and aim to help educate and raise awareness for youth and all Canadians.
The foundation does this through its youth programs such as the Vimy Pilgrimage Award and the Beaverbrook Vimy Prize which allow students the opportunity to develop leadership skills and travel to Europe to discover more about our shared histories.
The Foundation also seeks to develop new and innovative ways to teach and commemorate Canada’s First World War history such as the release of our digital project Vimy: A Living Memorial which combines two assets which allow users to share their own testimonies and experience Vimy from anywhere in the world.
When did you start/join it?
I joined the Vimy Foundation in 2015 as a consultant and was promoted to Executive Director in 2019.
What made you want to get involved?
I was very interested in public history, and the Foundation was doing so much to inform the public about the First World War. It seemed like a place where I could have an effect.
What was the situation like when you started?
The Foundation had grown since it started but was still quite small. The Centennial of the First World War was a very busy time and we all had to pitch in on lots of different projects.
How has it changed since?
We’ve grown so much! I started out with three colleagues and now we are a team of eight. We have a museum collection, a lot of national attention, and we’ve been very lucky to participate in a lot of great initiatives in the last five years.
What more needs to be done?
There are always more people to reach and more students to include in our programming. We are still a small team with a big task, and sometimes it can be overwhelming to consider how to reach as many Canadians as possible. Commemoration isn’t just for 11 November, it is a spirit that we have to encourage throughout the year.
How can our readers help?
Interested readers can support us financially by donating to our cause on our website or by buying Vimy merchandise. But most importantly, readers can help by becoming active in commemoration and learning more about our shared histories.
Do you have any events coming up?
Our collection unit, the Canadian Centre for the Great War currently has a travelling exhibit which will be appearing in a number of museums across Canada, and if you are unable to attend in person, there is a digital exhibition available as well.
Where can we follow you?
PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity that you love?
We love Gerdy’s Animal Rescue, a West Island cat & dog adoption charity.