To honour the Manitoba soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in World War I, the province has planned several tributes to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Premier Brian Pallister announced today.
“The anniversary of Vimy Ridge should serve to remind us all the freedom we enjoy today was never really free at all,” said Pallister. “That bloody battle on a French escarpment a century ago made the world sit up and take notice of Canada. No longer were we a fledgling member of the Commonwealth, we were a nation, ready to step up and play our role in defending the free world.”
One of the bloodiest battles in history, Vimy Ridge was also instrumental in shaping Canada as a nation. It was the first time all four divisions in the Canadian military fought together. As a special tribute, the Manitoba government invited family members of 13 Manitoba soldiers to a ceremony at the Legislative Building today including relatives of two brothers who fought at Vimy Ridge. The province announced it will name 13 lakes in the Flin Flon region in honour of the soldiers.
Pallister was joined at the commemorative Vimy Ridge ceremony by the lieutenant-governor of Manitoba, the ministers of sustainable development and culture, sport and heritage, the British Consul General, the Honorary Consul for Great Britain, the Honorary Consul of France and the president of the Manitoba and northwestern Ontario branch of the Royal Canadian Legion. Representatives of all branches of the Canadian Armed Forces were also in attendance.
The public can view several displays at the Legislative Building to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge, such as commemorative banners along the main walkway to the front steps, the image of a poppy projected onto the north tower of the building every evening until mid-April and a video tribute inside the front entrance to the more than 8,000 Manitoba casualties of the First World War. The Manitoba Archives, 200 Vaughn St., will hold a public open house April 12 from 1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m. The archives is home to a variety of records from Manitoba soldiers involved in the Battle of Vimy Ridge, such as letters, diaries and trench maps.