(Ottawa) Ottawa celebrated on Saturday the 105and anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, one of the country’s greatest military victories.
Governor General Mary Simon and Minister of Defense Anita Anand participated in a ceremony held at the National War Memorial in Confederation Square.
Ottawa’s English-speaking Poet Laureate, Albert Dumont, an elder of the Anishinaabe nation, kicked off the ceremony around 11 a.m. with a prayer and a smudging ceremony.
“We must understand that the freedom soldiers died for was not extinguished,” Dumont said. She is here. We feel it in our lungs with every breath. I am grateful to those who died for us, all those who were hurt. As a free people, we honor them with ceremonies like this. Our hearts are filled with love and respect for all those who stood up for the freedom of fellow Canadians. »
The crowd rose as Mr. Dumont and his granddaughter burned sage to clear the air.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge, which took place in northern France, is considered a defining moment in Canadian history. Canadian soldiers fought as part of one large unit: the Canadian Expeditionary Force.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, absent from the ceremony, recalled in a press release that the Canadian corps had succeeded where the other allied forces had failed.
“Many of them were young men in their late teens and early twenties, united in their fight for justice, peace and freedom,” he said. In addition, some innovative combat techniques practiced at Vimy Ridge would contribute to the final Allied victory a year and a half later. »
About 100,000 Canadian soldiers attacked the German positions erected on the ridge from April 9 to 12. They managed to seize it at the cost of more than 10,600 casualties, including nearly 3,600 killed.
“This battle, indeed this whole war, is a story of unity and collaboration, and Canadian ingenuity, bravery and sacrifice,” said Mr.me Simon. But it also shows us why we must always strive for peace. The price to pay is too high to do otherwise. »
The Governor General also mentioned the many conflicts currently raging. “It is our duty to turn to dialogue, understanding and respect. It is our obligation to the soldiers who stormed Vimy Ridge more than a century ago.”
Mme Anand delivered a speech, recalling that Canada truly became a nation during this battle, one of the few Allied victories before the final offensive in August-November 1918.
The Germans had established a mighty network of trenches and tunnels on Vimy Ridge, turning it into a fortress that Allied forces fought their teeth over for three years.
“Trained vigorously for this attack, our soldiers were ready. This battle represents a defining moment for our country,” said the Minister.
After the speeches, a minute of silence was observed, broken by the sound of bagpipes playing The Lament and indigenous percussion.
“Even though we are far from the battlefields, we hold Vimy and all those who paid the ultimate price a place in our hearts. We will always be grateful. »
This article was produced with the financial support of the Facebook and The Canadian Press News Fellowships.