Student film project helps share stories from Second World War

By Ashley Wiebe
November 12, 2018 - 5:28pm Updated: November 13, 2018 - 4:05pm


MEDICINE HAT, AB — A yearly film project is helping generations connect.

Teens from Medicine Hat and surrounding areas are working with seniors to help tell their stories, like Esme Crowther, who came to Canada as a war bride.

She was 11 years old and living in England when the Second World War began.

“I really didn’t have any teenage years,” she said. “It seemed like immediately we grew up overnight because of the severity of the situation.”

Now, at 91, she remembers just how dark her childhood had been.

“We weren’t allowed to have any light, we had to have our windows blackened, every window had to have black,” she added. “They supplied it, the black tape, because you can’t have any light when they’re coming over to bomb. They can see a light.”

It’s stories like these that Brooke Pfeifer, 16, had never heard before.

“It was just really eye opening to hear those stories and when she started getting emotional, it was, like, I almost started getting emotional cause it felt so real. And it was real, they’re real experiences,” she said.

The 16-year-old worked with Crowther on the Revera and Reel Youth Age is More film project.

It made its debut in the days leading up to Remembrance Day and it gave Pfeifer something to think about.

“Hearing her stories, it was incredible,” she said. “Like, I wasn’t expecting the depth of details that she was giving.”

Including, that despite the war efforts going on around her, Crowther said there was a little excitement.

In her interview with Pfeifer, she talks about the Canadian and American soldiers coming over.

“You can imagine what that would do for the girls of Britain,” she said with a smile. “The accents and they played guitars. It caused quite a commotion.”

Crowther met her late husband, Harold, a Canadian soldier, when she herself was just 16.

After a few dates, he asked her to marry him.

“I always remember it was in the park, a beautiful park, and the moon was shining on the ocean,” she said.

Remembrance Day has always meant a time to reflect for Crowther.

“It’s remembering all those young soldiers and lots of them that didn’t come back and some that got wounded, that gave their lives, so that we could be free because if they hadn’t have, we wouldn’t be here today.”

A family tie to the war means November 11th has also held a place in Pfeifer’s heart, but this project helped change her perspective.

“It just showed me how much it really happens and that it happened a lot to people a lot closer to you than you realize,” she said.

Pfeifer added that the project has helped spark an interest and a passion for filmmaking, something she said she’s already considering studying following graduation.

For more information on the Age is More project, click here.

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