- On Saturday, the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of Canada’s most significant military victories, was commemorated in Ottawa.
- The crowd erupted as Dumont, and his granddaughter sprinkled burning sage on the assemblage of political and military visitors.
- However, the conflict was not without tragedy; Canada suffered 10,600 casualties, with over 3,600 killed.
On Saturday, the 105th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of Canada’s most important military successes, was remembered in Ottawa.
Around 11 a.m., Confederation Square fell silent as Anishinaabe elder and Ottawa poet laureate Albert Dumont began the commemorations with a prayer.
“We need to recognize that the freedom that the troops died for is not entombed,” Dumont said at the National War Memorial, standing beside the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“It’s here, and with every breath, we take as free people, we’re inhaling it. I’m grateful to all those who gave their lives for us and those who were injured. We honored them with events like this as free people. We have a lot of love and respect for anyone who fought for other Canadians’ freedom.”
As Dumont and his granddaughter smeared the gathering of political and military guests with burning sage, the mob erupted.
During World War I, the combat in northern France is seen as a watershed point in Canadian history since the country’s soldiers fought as one united unit, the Canadian Corps.
In a statement, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau acknowledged that Canada had accomplished something that no other Allied army had done before.
On Saturday, Trudeau stated, “Many of them were young men in their late teens and early twenties, united in their battle for justice, peace, and freedom.”
“After meticulously planning and preparing their offensive, Canadian soldiers charged uphill through sleet, mud, as well as machine-gun fire to capture Vimy Ridge on a frigid Easter Monday in 1917 in northern France. They came from all over the country — Francophones, Anglophones, New Canadians, Black Canadians, and Indigenous Peoples — and fought for four days to secure this win.”
From the morning of April 9 through the afternoon of April 12, 1917, over 100,000 Canadian soldiers battled the Germans and succeeded in taking the ridge.
The conflict, however, was not without tragedy; Canada suffered 10,600 casualties, over 3,600 of which were dead.
At Saturday’s ceremony, Defence Minister Anita Anand joined Gov. Gen. Mary Simon to honor the achievements and sacrifices of individuals who served Canada in times of conflict.
“The battle, and indeed the entire war, is a story of Canadian resourcefulness, bravery, and sacrifice,” Simon explained.
“But it also demonstrates what we must strive for at all times: peace. Otherwise, the price would be far too high.”
Simon also paid respect to the world’s ongoing wars. “We must move away from confrontation and toward discussion, understanding, and respect. That is something we owe to those who fought at Vimy Ridge more than a century ago.”
Anand informed the crowd that the battle was the turning point in Canada’s development as a nation, contributing to one of the most crucial Allied triumphs.
In 1914, the Germans turned Vimy Ridge into a fiercely fortified network of tunnels and trenches, defended by a machine gun and artillery arsenal. Hundreds of thousands of British and French troops have perished and failed to conquer Vimy Ridge after three years of fruitless assaults.
“On the battlefield, soldiers from all around our country came together to break the German front line and conquer Vimy Ridge; it was a risky and tough position that had already cost our allies a lot of lives,” Anand added.
“Our forces, on the other hand, had prepared extensively for this onslaught and were fully prepared. This conflict was a watershed point in the history of our country.”
Following the remarks, there was a brief moment of silence before a lone bagpiper played The Lament, followed by wreath-laying and Indigenous drumming.
“We hold the memories of Vimy Ridge and those who paid the ultimate price near to our hearts, even if we are far from the battlefields,” Anand said. “We will be eternally thankful.”
Source: CTV News
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