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An Interview with Edith (Edie) Bijdemast (Part Two)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2015/09/22


An interview with Edith (Edie) Bijdemast. She discusses: her geographic, cultural, and linguistic family background; the Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” and the Dutch Network web site; the Dodenherdenking ceremony (May 4th Remembrance Day), the Bevrijdingsdag celebration (May 5th Liberation Day), and V-E Day (May 8th Victory in Europe); the bonds between the Netherlands and Canada forged by the rescue efforts of Canadians at the end of WWII; the emotional impact on Dutch-Canadians relating to these events; and her volunteer efforts leading to the honour of Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau.

Keywords: Bevrijdingsdag, Canadian Veterans, Dodenherdenking, Dutch culture, Dutch-Canadian, Dutch Network, Edith (Edie) Bijdemast, Greater Vancouver Dutch Network, Holland, immigrants, immigration, Je Maintiendrai, Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau, Koningsdag, liberation, Netherlands, Netherlands Association, president, Remembrance Day, Sinterklaas, V-E Day, WWII, World War II.

An Interview with Edith (Edie) Bijdemast (Part Two)[1],[2],[3],[4]

*Please see the photographs, footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*


For those in the senior cohort, what feelings appear most prominent in relation to V-E day and Dodenherdenking for them?

Emotions run high when I speak with the senior members of the Dutch-Canadian community about the May 4th Dodenherdenking (Remembrance Day). They were children or teenagers during WWII. Many are still suffering with Post Traumatic Stress symptoms, fear of the dark, small places, loud noises such as thunder, and the sound of airplanes flying overhead. Some tell stories about fighting in the resistance and surviving the concentration camps. Others lost their family members to the gas chambers. For some, the memories that the Dodenherdenking brings to mind are so painful that tears well up in their eyes and they are simply unable to speak about it. The seniors are filled with a profound sadness of the tremendous loss of life and express an eternal gratitude for the bravery and sacrifice of the Canadians that fought for their liberation. They will never forget and they wish to ensure that future generations also remember. This year, 2015, the Netherlands celebrated the 70th Anniversary of the liberation of their country by Canadian troops. Although there are few members of my Mother’s generation still with us, the memories, and the bonds of friendship between the Netherlands and Canada live on. To read a story about how the Dutch respect their Canadian WWII liberators, click >>Here<<.

8. What inspired the foundation of the Greater Vancouver Dutch Network for you?

In 2005, I had just accepted a volunteer position on the board of Directors for the not-for-profit Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.). As I began to research Dutch-Canadian local affairs on behalf of the Association, the community appeared to be fractured to me with small groups working in isolation. At that time, as a high school teacher, I was learning the software program FrontPage 2003 in order to create web sites for my Science 9 and Biology 11 classes. So I decided to create the Dutch Network web site at the same time. My goal was to provide a convenient communication portal for the local Dutch community and to improve awareness of the not-for-profit society. It was clear that if N.A.J.M. was to grow, a presence on the internet was needed. Once the Dutch Network web site went on-line, I began to receive an ever increasing number of e-mails from local Dutch-Canadians and Dutch abroad, as well as from organizations around the world. Thus, N.A.J.M. obtained a global voice. In an effort to connect with the younger generation, a Dutch Network page was created on Facebook in 2010 and to date it has received 504 “Likes”. These methods of communication create a platform for Dutch-Canadians, and Dutch abroad, to connect, share ideas, and support each other.

9. The Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” hosts a diverse array of activities such as Coffee Clubs, Brunches, Family events, the April Koningsdag, the May Dodenherdening (Remembrance), summer Bicycling events, monthly Pub Nights, weekly Nature Walks, and other special events as well.[5]How do these activities provide for the various generational divides among Dutch-Canadians?

In 2005, the Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai (N.A.J.M.) was catering to my Mother’s generation with their 4 annual dinner-dances. Twenty-eight years younger than my Mother, I also enjoyed the dances, but it was clear that the younger generation had other interests. So N.A.J.M. began to branch out by offering a wide range of events that appealed to different age groups. Generally speaking, the Dutch Coffee Clubs are a favourite among seniors, whereas the Pub Nights appeal to the younger set. However, sometimes young Dutch-Canadians also visit the Coffee Clubs and, occasionally, seniors join in on a Pub Night. Families with young children enjoy the Pot-Luck Lunch and Easter Egg Hunt. I enjoy the Nature Walks each Friday morning. Each generation has its own set of interests, discussion topics, and different time slots during the day and week when they are free to come together and socialize. Currently, N.A.J.M. is starting up a new monthly event, a Pot-luck Lunch and Dutch Sing-Along, and is looking forward to hosting other new activities as well. All we need is enthusiastic volunteers to come up with ideas and take charge.

10. How about for crossing the generational divides among Dutch-Canadians?

Currently, there are two key events where all age groups of the local Dutch-Canadian community celebrate enthusiastically together and those are Koningsdag and Sinterklaas. A national holiday in the Netherlands, Koningsdag (King’s Day) celebrates King Willem-Alexander’s birthday on the 27th of April. Most Dutch people wear orange clothing on Koningsdag to honour the House of Orange-Nassau. Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas) is celebrated on December 5th in the Netherlands. Poems are read, presents are given, and cinnamon speculaas cookies, chocoladeletters (chocolate letters), and lots of pepernoten (tiny pepper nut cookies) are enjoyed. These two core celebrations bridge the generation gaps, unite all the age groups, and create a sense of unity.

11. The Greater Vancouver Dutch Network hosts a “Dutch Library” too.[6] What purpose does this serve for the Dutch-Canadian community?

The Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.) aims to preserve, enhance, and celebrate, Dutch heritage, language and cultural traditions. N.A.J.M.’s Dutch Library at the Holland Shopping Centre (H.S.C.; located at 141 East Columbia Street in New Westminster, provides access to free books for reading pleasure in a comfortable community venue. It is N.A.J.M.’s goal to help members of the Dutch-Canadian community maintain and improve reading fluency and comprehension, as well as oral language and writing skills. Every effort is made to have a wide variety of books available in the Dutch Library to stimulate the curiosity and imagination of readers of all ages. Although there is now a shift towards digital books, most people still enjoy the tactile pleasure of reading a book in print. Thus, the N.A.J.M. Dutch Library aims to preserve Dutch literature, to create connections between Dutch authors and readers, to keep people informed, to improve literacy by providing educational material that enables people to learn and discover, and ultimately to inspire readers.

12. What seems like the most valuable book in the collection?

Overall, no book in the Dutch Library collection is more “valuable” than another. However, to me personally, the first 50 books that were placed on the shelves on March 4th 2013 to start the project, have special significance. That was a very special day. The Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.) had hoped to start up a Dutch library for many years. However, affordable, adequate space and the logistics of managing personnel for such an undertaking were always allusive. So it was finally decided to take an alternative approach to enable the project to go ahead. The books are donated by members of the Dutch-Canadian community and dropped off at the Holland Shopping Centre (H.S.C.; located at 141 East Columbia Street in New Westminster. The H.S.C. has donated shelf space for the books and the Dutch Library is managed by N.A.J.M. volunteers. Photographs of the books are posted on-line at so that readers may virtually browse the titles and authors prior to coming to the library. The books may be kept, passed on, or returned to the library shelves. As of August 18th 2015, we are proud to say that 1040 books have been made available to the Dutch-Canadian community in this manner. Since “value” is in the eyes of the beholder, any of the books may turn out to be a rare treasure to an individual browsing the collection.

13. For those with an interest to contribute to the cultural legacy of the Dutch-Canadian community, how can individuals become involved through volunteering, donations, and other activities/actions?[7]

Purchasing a Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.) membership helps to fund new activities and enables N.A.J.M. to continually improve its services to the local Dutch-Canadian community. One could also give a membership to a family member &/or friend. A twelve month N.A.J.M. membership is $35. Cheques for memberships &/or donations should be made payable to “N.A.J.M.” and mailed to N.A.J.M. President, Edie Bijdemast, #306 – 15389 Roper Avenue, White Rock, BC, V4B 2G2. Multiple year memberships may also be purchased, thus, we currently have some members paid up to the year 2020. Donations may be made to support specific events or projects.

Volunteers are always welcome. It is via a team effort that projects are accomplished. The N.A.J.M. Board of Directors is open to fresh perspectives and new ideas. Volunteers may join a specific committee such as the Dutch Library, Koningsdag, Dodenherdenking, or Sinterklaas. They are also welcome to organize a new event that appeals to them, be it weekly, monthly, annually, or simply helping out with an event every now and then. Each volunteer is unique and contributes in his or her own way, as they are able. Assisting with even the smallest of tasks can make a big difference to others. For those that prefer home-based volunteering, there are also opportunities to assist via phone and computer. There are letters to write, newsletters to publish, E-mail to handle, and a web site and Facebook page to manage. Volunteering is a great way to learn new things and meet new people. It is a way to take part in fulfilling activities and have fun at the same time. By reaching out, volunteers make a positive impact on the community. For further information, volunteers can contact Edie Bijdemast at 604-536-3394 or Passion and a positive attitude are the only requirements and all efforts are greatly appreciated.

14. What does the Greater Vancouver Dutch Network plan in the near and far future?

Currently celebrating its 50th Anniversary, the Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.) has many exciting avenues to explore. In order to pursue them, the current web site ( needs to be reconstructed to conform with the requirements of today’s rapidly changing technology. New brochures need to be designed and distributed to raise awareness of the Association and increase the number of supporting members. The more members and volunteers N.A.J.M. has, the more projects can be completed and events offered. In the near future, a virtual heritage project to collect Dutch-Canadian stories might be an appropriate project to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 2017. In regards to the far future, N.A.J.M. will continually need to adapt and evolve in creative new directions to meet the ever-changing needs of new waves of Dutch immigrants joining the multi-generational Dutch-Canadian community. In order to do this, it is imperative that each generation is equally represented by enthusiastic volunteers on the N.A.J.M. Board of Directors, to help guide the way.

15. How does the Greater Vancouver Dutch Network’s intentions interconnect with the global Dutch community?

There are over sixty links on the Dutch Network web site to other Dutch clubs around the globe. When I read each club’s introduction, they all seem to mirror the goals of Netherland Associations “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.): “to preserve, enhance, and celebrate, Dutch heritage, language and cultural traditions.” Thus, each club’s intentions interconnect via a shared common theme. The last twenty years have seen rapid change though technology, enabling even greater connectedness. Platforms such as Facebook, Linked-in, and Skype are changing the way we communicate. However, there is still nothing better than meeting in person, face to face. New immigrants, students, and tourists, enjoy N.A.J.M.’s monthly Dutch Pub Night which is a comfortable way to meet new people, share stories and information, and make beneficial connections. Dutch new immigrants tend to integrate rather quickly into Canadian society. Over the years, I have met many young Dutch exchange students, some on their first visit abroad. It is always a pleasure to connect with them and show them the local sites. They meet the Dutch-Canadian community here and feel as if they are amongst relatives. It always amazes me that Dutch people on holidays for only two weeks in Vancouver still manage to find us at the Dutch Pub Night &/or Dutch Coffee Clubs. Place of origin and language create such strong bonds. Cultural clubs around the world provide a welcome spot to feel connected in a foreign environment, a place to obtain an “inside” perspective, providing a supportive network for new immigrants, students, and tourists alike, and everyone benefits.

Appendix I: Photos

Schiphol Airport Amsterdam - November 1956

Henny (holding Irma) and Henk Bijdemast (holding Edie) saying good bye at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on their way to Canada on November 28th 1956.

Edie and Henny Bijdemast celebrating Henny’s 80th birthday with their Shelti, Falene, on September 28th 2003.

EdieHennyBijdemast-JaapHille-Dodenherdenking - May 4th 2005

Forever grateful, Edie and Henny Bijdemast place a wreath on behalf of N.A.J.M., with the help of Jaap Hille, on May 4th 2005 for the Dodenherdenking (Remembrance) at the Victoria Square Cenotaph in Vancouver.

Edie receiving Knight in the Order of Orange-Nasssau award - April 26th 2014
EdieHennyWRstatue-856 - 7June2015

Edie Bijdemast receiving the Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau Award, on April 26th 2014, from Johannes Vervloed (Consul General of the Netherlands) and his wife.

Edie and Henny Bijdemast by the waterfront “Passenger” statue in White Rock, BC, where they currently reside, 7th June 2015.

Appendix II: Bibliography

  1. [TulipTVShow] (2012, January 12). TulipTV meets Edie Bijdemast, NL Ass. Je Maintiendrai. Retrieved from
  2. [TulipTVShow] (2012, July 8). TulipTV – NAJM, Princess Christina Contest, Calgary Stampede Ranch. Retrieved from
  3. Balen, E.V. (2013, May). Dutch community comes alive at orange events. Retrieved from
  4. Bijdemast, E. (2004). Science 9 with Ms. Bijdemast. Retrieved from
  5. Davison J. (2015, May 4). VE-Day: Why Dutch-Canadian connections have stayed so strong. Retrieved from
  6. Greater Vancouver Dutch Network. (2015). Greater Vancouver Dutch Network. Retrieved from
  7. Journal of the Entomological Society of Canada (1994). Journal of the Entomological Society of Canada: No 2 (1994) Occasional Paper (Entomological Society of British Columbia). Retrieved from
  8. Massah, S. (2014, May 5). A bond that has stood the test of time. Retrieved from
  9. van der Heide, A. (2005). Holland Remembers exhibit well received by appreciative visitors. Retrieved from
  10. White Rock Seniors Computer Club (n.d.). 2015 Executive Committee: Edie Bijdemast. Retrieved from

Appendix III: Footnotes

[1] President, Netherlands Association “Je Maintiendrai” (N.A.J.M.); Founder, Greater Vancouver’s Dutch Network; Program Coordinator, White Rock Seniors Computer Club.

[2] First publication on September 22, 2015 at

[3] Bachelor of Science & Bachelor of Education, Science, Biology, and Education.

[4] Photographs courtesy of Edith (Edie) Bijdemast.

[5] Please see Greater Vancouver Dutch Network (2015). 2015 Events: Mark Your Calendars. Retrieved from

[6] Please see Greater Vancouver Dutch Network (2015). Dutch Library. Retrieved from

[7] Please see Greater Vancouver Dutch Network (2015). Volunteer. Retrieved from


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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