Field a national symbol of peace
Many know the history of Valour Road, formerly Pine Street, named in 1925 for the contributions of three former residents of the 700 block of the street who each received the Victoria Cross for actions of bravery during First World War: Corporal Leo Clarke, Sergeant-Major Frederick William Hall, and Lieutenant Robert Shankland.
Perhaps less well known in terms of our neighbourhood’s connection to the First World War is the designation of the Valour soccer pitch as a Peace Field, the only one in all of Canada. Valour Community Centre, and its football and soccer teams, the Patriots, were named as tributes to the history of Valour Road.
The Valour Road Peace Field Project is part of a larger initiative of the National Children’s Football Alliance which invites schools, clubs and community groups to commemorate the First World War and "to celebrate peace through reflecting on a moment in history that inspires humanitarianism."
On a more poignant note, the Peace Field Projects and the Valour Peace Field here in Winnipeg aims to serve as a reminder of the Christmas Truce during the First World War, where on Christmas Eve 1914, British and German soldiers put their guns down, rose out of their trenches, and met in the middle of No Man’s Land to sing carols, bury the dead, exchange gifts and stories, and share in a game of soccer. Indeed, sports have always had a compelling ability to bring people together despite our differences.
We see examples of this everyday on our soccer fields, our volleyball courts, our school yards, and our hockey rinks.
Reflecting on 150 years since Confederation and looking forward as we forge a path of reconciliation and peace means that it is important for each of us to consider how we might be able to work towards peace in our own lives.
Keeping in mind the lessons of the Christmas Truce, as the Valour Peace Field pays tribute to, is one small way to help us commit to memory the lessons of the past so that we are better prepared to overcome our differences and work together to confront our most pressing issues now and into the future.