Earlier today, thousands of people gathered at the National War Memorial in Ottawa to honour and remember those who served Canada – 100 years ago – during the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
At the commemorative event in Ottawa, which preceded the ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on behalf of the Government of Canada, joined Veterans, the Right Honourable Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin, Parliamentarians, members of the Diplomatic Corps, Canadian Armed Forces and Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel, Indigenous peoples’ representatives, the Vimy Delegation, youth and the general public to mark this important anniversary.
The order of ceremony at the National War Memorial included performances by Dr. Andrea McCrady, Dominion Carillonneur; the Canadian Armed Forces Central Band; the Ottawa Choral Society; Mr. Dave Hookimaw and Mr. Theland Kicknosway; Soloist Sierra Noble; as well as a smudging ceremony and guest appearances of Silver Cross Mothers, Gisèle Michaud and Colleen Fitzpatrick.
On April 9, 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought side-by-side for the first time during the war. After four days of battle, Canada helped secure an impressive victory at Vimy, but it came at great cost. Close to 3,600 Canadians were killed during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. By the end of the First World War, Canada, a country of fewer than eight million people, would see more than 650,000 men and women having served in uniform.
A century later, people came together in Canada and in France to remember them. More than 20,000 visitors attended the commemorative ceremonies at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. Commemorative events were also organized in communities across Canada. From Victoria to Halifax, Yellowknife to St. John’s, Canadians gathered to remember this important moment in Canada’s military history.
- Victory in the Battle of Vimy Ridge came at a great cost. Of the some 100,000 members of the Canadian Corps who served in the battle, approximately 3,600 lost their lives and over 7,000 more were wounded.
- Canada’s most impressive tribute overseas to those Canadians who fought and gave their lives in the First World War is the majestic and inspiring Canadian National Vimy Memorial which overlooks the Douai Plain from the highest point of Vimy Ridge, about ten kilometres north of Arras.
- The memorial does more than mark the site of the engagement that Canadians were to remember with more pride than any other operation of the First World War. It stands as a tribute to all who served their country in battle in that four-year struggle and particularly to those who gave their lives.
- More than 650,000 Canadians would serve in uniform by the end of the First World War. The conflict took a huge toll, with more than 66,000 Canadians losing their lives and 170,000 being wounded.
- On April 3, 2003, The Government of Canada designated April 9th of each year as a national day of remembrance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.