VIMY, France, July 3, 2016 /CNW/ - The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and members of a Canadian delegation marking the centennial anniversaries of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel today attended a remembrance ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Minister Hehr then joined Vimy Foundation student alumnus Xavier Delporte in viewing progress on a new Visitor Education Centre. The centre is scheduled to open April 2017 as part of commemorative events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Minister Hehr congratulated the Vimy Foundation for raising $5 million in support of the new Visitor Education Centre. This matches the Government of Canada's commitment and brings the project's total budget to $10 million. To mark his first visit to the monument, Mr. Delporte presented Minister Hehr with a Vimy Pilgrimage medal.
Earlier in the day at Givenchy Road Canadian Cemetery, the delegation laid poppy crosses made by four Canadian youth delegates and their classmates in Newfoundland and Labrador.
- Part of the broader Arras offensive, the Battle of Vimy Ridge began on the morning of April 9, 1917. The four-day battle was the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together as one formation. The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge is considered to be a key point in shaping Canada as a nation.
- The Canadian National Vimy Memorial commemorates all Canadians who fought in the First World War, and remembers by name some 11,285 Canadian soldiers killed in France, whose final resting places were unknown.
- As part of commemorative events marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, a new Visitor Education Centre is scheduled to open in April 2017.
- Events commemorating the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the opening of the new Visitor Education Centre are part of Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation celebrations in 2017—a pivotal milestone for Canada to connect with our past, celebrate who we are, honour our exceptional achievements and build a legacy for tomorrow.
"The Government of Canada thanks the members of the Vimy Foundation for their commitment and for their leadership in ensuring Canada's legacy of remembrance continues. This new centre will help us share the stories of those who bravely served during the First World War and provide visitors with insight into why the Canadian National Vimy Memorial is such an important symbol for our country."
The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
"We are very thankful for the support of corporate Canada and the charitable foundations, philanthropists and individual Canadians whose generous contributions have helped us reach our ambitious fundraising goal. We join the Government of Canada and all Canadians in anticipation of the opening of the Visitor Education Centre and commemoration of the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in April 2017."
Christopher Sweeney, Chair of the Vimy Foundation
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
Image with caption: "The Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, and Xavier Delporte, representing the Vimy Foundation, visit the construction site for the new Visitor Education Centre at Vimy. (CNW Group/Veterans Affairs Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20160705_C1420_PHOTO_EN_727425.jpg
For further information: Sarah McMaster, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468