Petawawa soldier featured in Vimy exhibit

Article / February 25, 2020 / Project number: 19-0308

Note: to view additional photos, click the photo under Image Gallery.

By Steven Fouchard, Army Public Affairs

Oromocto, New Brunswick — When Corporal Genevieve Lapointe, a Canadian Army Image Technician, was asked to photograph 40 new graduates from an artillery course this past July, the only expectation was that she would take a group shot.

Cpl Lapointe, however, took the opportunity to also capture individual portraits of each graduate and that extra effort produced a stunning result that is now on display in an exhibit entitled Faces of Freedom at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.

The exhibit, which features portraits of some 25 Canadians who have served in uniform from the First World War to today will be featured at the Memorial’s visitor education centre through May 2020.

Cpl Lapointe is currently posted to the Combat Training Centre (CTC), a unit of the Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre at 5 Canadian Division Support Base in Oromocto, New Brunswick.

“It was the day of their graduation,” she recalled, “and they were doing the last portion of the course. We wanted to get their faces at the end because they were tired. On some faces you can tell that. They look dirty, they look like they've been working hard. These were not staged at all.”

The “we” in this case was Cpl Lapointe and her husband, Master Warrant Officer Stephane Gauvreau, who is Battery Sergeant Major of CTC’s Artillery School and helped organize the shoot, which involved 40 subjects in total.

“People are usually in a rush at the end of a course,” said Cpl Lapointe. “They want to be finished but he said, ‘No, we are doing it.’”

One might think capturing portraits lacks some of the excitement that Army Image Techs are routinely exposed to, but Cpl Lapointe said it never fails to stimulate her creativity.

“I like to see faces,” she explained. “The eyes say something. Especially with military people. When I go in the field I like to see them when they’re working hard, when they're tired. They have a story to tell just with their faces. So I always try to get that.”

Cpl Lapointe’s work came to the attention of officials from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC), the agency responsible for the Vimy Memorial, via her Facebook page.

Cpl Lapointe put this series of photos out into the world and it came to me on the same morning from three different people who forwarded it and said, ‘Oh my gosh, these look like they would be perfect for the exhibit,” said VAC Program Manager Amanda Kelly.

There were four images from the series under consideration, she added. The one chosen depicts Bombardier Jen Wildman of 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, based in Petawawa, Ontario.

“The consensus was that we really wanted to have a woman in a combat role,” said Ms. Kelly. “We have several women represented in the exhibit and they are predominantly nurses and signallers. This is a very different role and it’s very representative, I think, of the diversity of the Canadian Armed Forces today.”

Canada’s military past is a large part of both the Vimy Memorial and the Faces of Freedom exhibit but both Cpl Lapointe and Ms. Kelly noted the importance of drawing links between historical military figures and those serving today.

“Bringing the stories of the men and women who are commemorated on the Vimy Memorial to life is a challenge that we embrace fully,” said Ms. Kelly. “And being able to relate them to the story of someone like Bdr Wildman is an incredible opportunity to help people understand that, whether it’s the people you see in uniform today, or people that served 75 or 100 years ago, they’re all individuals and we have to respect the sacrifices they made.”

“There's a lot of people still serving and we’re normal people,” Cpl Lapointe added. “It’s people like me, like Bdr Wildman. It was and is all around us.”

To comment on this article, visit the Canadian Army's Facebook Notes

Date modified: