New Vimy Foundation poll reveals many Canadians unaware of Vimy Ridge, one of Canada's most important battles

Vimy Day to be celebrated across Canada on April 9

TORONTO, April 7, 2014 /CNW/ - To mark Vimy Day (April 9), The Vimy Foundation has released a new poll measuring Canadian attitudes and knowledge of this seminal moment in Canadian history.

Recognition of Vimy is high, with four in five (82%) knowing that it is a famous battle in which Canadian troops fought bravely, while one in five (18%) did not know that Vimy Ridge was one of Canada's most notorious battles. Surprisingly, one in ten Canadians thought that Vimy Ridge is a Canadian mountain range or a ski slope that was used for practice for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.

The most evident confusion was related to in which war was the Battle of Vimy Ridge fought, with less than half (47%) Canadians knowing that it was a First World War battle. Two in five (37%) erroneously believe that the battle occurred in the Second World War.

In each case, the oldest Canadians polled (55+) were the most likely to know their Canadian military history, while the youngest Canadians polled (18-34) were least likely. One explanation for this could be that only four Canadian provinces offer mandatory pan-Canadian history courses in high school.

"While it is encouraging that a clear majority of the country recognizes the important place the victory holds in our history, it remains troubling that we are seeing a significant level of confusion among Canadians related to Vimy," said Jeremy Diamond, Director of the Vimy Foundation. "However, the Foundation sees an opportunity to further educate and engage millions of Canadians as we countdown to the centennial in 2017."

Interestingly, 3% of those polled, equivalent to more than 1,000,000 Canadians, said that they or a member of their family are considering travelling to Vimy for centennial celebrations in 2017.

The Vimy Foundation, working with the Government of Canada, is spearheading the building of an Education Centre at the Vimy Memorial site in France, so that students and visitors can better understand this pivotal moment in Canadian history. The new Centre will open on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 9, 2017. For more information on Vimy 2017, visit www.vimy100.ca

Click here to view full poll results.

Other findings include:

  • 3 in 10 (30%) of Canadians think that Vimy Ridge was where Canadian soldiers suffered major losses in the Second World War on the beaches of Normandy.
  • One quarter of Quebecers (24%) think that Vimy Ridge is a ski slope for the Sochi Olympic Games
  • One quarter of Canadians believe that the victory at Vimy Ridge led to Canada becoming world-renowned for international peacekeeping
  • 81% of 55+ respondents knew Canada's victory at Vimy led to Canadians feeling a greater confidence in themselves. Nearly 30% fewer (53%) of young people said the same.

The Vimy Foundation
Founded in 2006, the mission of the Vimy Foundation is to preserve and promote Canada's First World War legacy as symbolized with the victory of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 1917, a milestone when Canada came of age and was then recognized on the world stage. Visit www.vimyfoundation.ca

SOURCE VIMY FOUNDATION

For further information: Jeremy Diamond, The Vimy Foundation, 416.722.9754 (cell); Jennifer Jones, The Vimy Foundation, 416.595.1917 (office)