Government of Canada Invests in Permanent Visitor Centre at Canadian National Vimy Memorial

EDMONTON, May 14, 2013 /CNW/ - On behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister for La Francophonie, and the Honourable Jim Flaherty, Minister of Finance, the Honourable Tim Uppal, Minister of State for Democratic Reform and Member of Parliament for Edmonton-Sherwood Park, and the Honourable Laurie Hawn, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre, 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.

"Our nation paid dearly at Vimy Ridge," said Minister Blaney. "Brave Canadians made an incredible sacrifice that Easter Monday morning in April 1917. Our impressive victory that day was not only felt on the battlefield, but it also helped change the course of the war and define our country. Our Government is proud to be working with the Vimy Foundation to establish a permanent Visitor Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Our mutual goal is to educate all Canadians—and friends of Canada—of the sacrifices and achievements of Canadians during the First World War."

"Our Government is committed to encouraging Canadians, young and old, to remember and honour those who have served our country," said Minister Uppal. "The establishment of a permanent Visitor Centre at Vimy Ridge will help all Canadians who visit those sacred grounds to come away with a renewed sense of honour and respect for the great efforts and sacrifices made during the First World War."

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 with the victory at Vimy Ridge in April 1917.

"Through Canada's Economic Action Plan, our Government is committed to building a lasting legacy to honour the sacrifices of Canadian Veterans 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."

"I think often of the sacrifices of fellow Canadians on Vimy Ridge that morning so long ago," said the Honourable Laurie Hawn, Member of Parliament for Edmonton Centre. "Our Government is proud—I am proud—of the efforts to create a permanent place where visitors to Vimy can appreciate the significance of that sacred place to each and every Canadian."

"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 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 initiative 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, which is thought to have been a key turning point in defining the young country as a nation. The battle came at a heavy cost: 100,000 Canadians who fought there suffered approximately 11,000 casualties, nearly 3,600 of them fatal.

To learn more about the Vimy Foundation, please visit vimyfoundation.ca. For more information about the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, please visit veterans.gc.ca.

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

For further information:

Media inquiries:

Janice Summerby
Media Relations Advisor
Veterans Affairs Canada
613-992-7468

Jean-Christophe de Le Rue
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
613-996-4649


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