Second annual Vimy Foundation Gala Dinner to raise awareness for key moment in Canadian history

 General (Ret'd) Rick Hillier and Canadian veterans among special guests   

TORONTO, May 5, 2014 /CNW/ - More than 400 business leaders, elected officials, members of the Canadian Forces and students will gather tonight at the Fairmont Royal York for the second annual Vimy Gala, hosted by the Vimy Foundation and presented by Bell Canada. With only three years until the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Canada's defining moment of the First World War, supporters will be on hand to help raise awareness and announce plans for the centennial commemorations set for 2017.

"We are thrilled that Canadians continue to embrace the Vimy Foundation's education and awareness programs. This event is no ordinary fundraiser. It will ensure that the Vimy legacy of national unity, sacrifice, innovation, and victory are never lost. The proceeds from tonight's gala will go towards the construction of the new Education Centre in Vimy, and I am confident that the gala will ignite pride and support for this initiative." said Christopher Sweeney, Chair of the foundation's Vimy 2017 Committee.

Other special guests, including the Minister of Veterans Affairs, General Richard Rohmer, former Senator Michael Meighen, and Helen Vari, Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur of France as well as Second World War veterans and currently serving member of the Canadian Forces will help celebrate the work of the Vimy Foundation and unveil plans for the new Education Centre, which will open in Vimy, France in 2017.  The Government of Canada, through Veterans Affairs Canada, has already contributed $5 million to the project and the Vimy Foundation plans to raise an additional $5-10 million.

"The Battles of Vimy Ridge and Passchendaele are recognized as turning points in Canadian history. They saw Canadians defend the values upon which our country was founded—freedom, democracy and the rule of law. It is wonderful to see the renewed interest in these important commemorations and the enthusiasm growing for the Road to 2017 celebrations," said The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs.

At Vimy Ridge, 97 years ago, 100,000 Canadians soldiers gathered for the first time as a united fighting force. Commanded in part by Canadian officers, they achieved the unachievable and took one of the most heavily defended German positions of the entire Western front. It is said by many historians that at Vimy Ridge Canada emerged from a colony to become a nation. It was not simply a battle – it was Canada's coming of age.

The Vimy Foundation is a registered charity 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 earned its place on the world stage. To learn more, visit www.vimyfoundation.ca

SOURCE VIMY FOUNDATION

For further information: For media inquiries: Jeremy Diamond, Director, 416.722.9754 (cell), jdiamond@vimyfoundation.ca