VIMY, France, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, today announced a Government of Canada investment of $5 million to support the construction of a permanent Visitor Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. Construction of the Centre is expected to be completed by April 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
"Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, our Government is committed to building a lasting legacy to honour the sacrifices of Canadians who helped to shape our nation," said Minister Flaherty, while visiting the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. "The construction of a permanent Visitor Centre at Vimy honours our commitment to commemorate the courage and sacrifices of Canadians in the First World War."
The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge is part of the Road to 2017, a Government of Canada initiative that begins in 2014. The aim of the Road to 2017 is to commemorate significant milestones that helped shape Canada leading up to our nation's 150th birthday in 2017. One of these milestones was the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917. The battle came at a heavy cost: 100,000 Canadians who fought there suffered approximately 11,000 casualties, nearly 3,600 of them fatal.
"Our nation paid dearly at Vimy Ridge," said Minister Blaney. "However, despite the immense sacrifice paid by our fellow Canadians that Easter Monday morning, we found in ourselves a stronger sense of identity—of pride—in our brave nation. The establishment of a permanent Visitor Centre at Vimy will help educate citizens and friends of Canada about the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians during the First World War."
"Today is a big day for all Canadians," said Christopher Sweeney, Chair of the Vimy Foundation's 2017 Committee. "We look forward to working with the federal government and other stakeholders, both in Canada and France, in the lead up to the centennial of Vimy Ridge in 2017. The opening of this education centre will be the highlight of national and international celebrations of what we, as Canadians, accomplished together at Vimy almost 100 years ago. Lest we forget."
The construction of a permanent Visitor Centre at Vimy will be realized through financial support from the Government of Canada and the Vimy Foundation. The Vimy Foundation will raise funds through donations from the private sector and individual Canadians. The Vimy Foundation is a registered Canadian charity with the mission to preserve and promote Canada's First World War legacy as symbolized by the victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917.
2013 is the Year of the Korean War Veteran—Canada proudly remembers the heroes of the Korean War and their brave fight to uphold freedom, democracy and the rule of law. For more information on Canada's role in the Korean War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada