"Vimy 2014" Reception hosted by the Embassy of France [fr]
The Vimy Foundation organized an evening at the Embassy of France to commemorate this symbolic event that brought our countries together (June 11, 2014)
Excerpts from speech by Ambassador Philippe Zeller
... Indeed, though we are currently in the month of June, the date was actually chosen particularly well. We are in a period that is rich in meaning for our two countries. Last week saw celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Normandy Landings, or D-Day.
We are also in 2014, the year that marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of the beginning of the First World War.
We are also very close to the centennial anniversary of another historical event of great significance. On June 28th, 1914, the assassination in Sarajevo of the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which is considered to be the inciting event of the First World War, would lead the world spiraling into war.
Alliances were set in motion and the first global conflict in human history would lead to the loss of millions of human lives. Little more than a month afterwards, on August 4th, as Great Britain declared war on Germany, Canada and all the dominions of the British Empire followed suit. On August 5th, Prince Arthur, the sitting Governor General, declared that Canada was going to war with Germany. For the first time in their history, free to decide the extent of their involvement, Canada’s armed forces fought as a distinct army corps, under Canadian command. The Canadian forces took up arms in many battles, and what decisive battles they were: Ypres, Passchendaele, la Somme, Gallipoli, and, of course, Vimy, the event that brings us all here tonight.
This victorious battle of Vimy, which came at heavy cost of the loss of a great deal of human life, bears vast meaning for Canadians: it marks the birth of the Canadian nation.
As a testimony to the importance of Vimy in the hearts of Canadians, the monument erected on Vimy Ridge has been depicted on the Canadian twenty-dollar bill since last year...
The Battle of Vimy Ridge
Canadians captured Vimy Ridge 97 years ago in a fight for peace, freedom and hope.
The message of Vimy Ridge is one of bravery and sacrifice. The battle, which took place on April 9, 1917, is commonly highlighted as a turning point in Canadian history, where the four Canadian divisions fought together as a unified fighting force for the first time. While 3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed during the battle, the impressive victory over German forces is often cited as the beginning of Canada’s evolution from dominion to independent nation. The Vimy Foundation is working to spread the word to Canada’s youth — through initiatives like the Vimy Prize and the Vimy Pin — so that all Canadians understand the importance of Vimy to the nation’s identity.
To underscore the sacrifices made by Canada, which suffered 60,000 fatalities during the First World War, France granted Canada 107 hectares of land at Vimy to build and maintain a memorial. That iconic site is today considered one of the most stirring of all First World War monuments, and certainly Canada’s most important war memorial.
(Source: The Vimy Foundation)