PARIS, Oct. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - The Honourable Julian Fantino, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today joined counterparts from 22 countries at an international ministerial seminar on the centennial of the First World War in Paris, France. The meeting, hosted by Minister Kader Arif, Minister for Veterans at the Ministry of Defence in France, provided an important opportunity to build ties with international counterparts on a key, historic joint initiative, to coordinate national and international programs on the centennial and to develop a common approach to international ceremonies that will take place beginning in 2014. The ministers also discussed plans for the 70th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, on June 6, 2014.
Minister Fantino took the opportunity, alongside key commemorative partners and in the company of D-Day Special Advisor, Major-General (R) Richard Rohmer, to unveil the Government of Canada's international plans to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War. The plans reflect commitments made in the Speech from the Throne to honour key milestones in Canadian history in the lead up to the 150th anniversary of Canada's Confederation in 2017.
"The 100th anniversary of the First World War and the 75th anniversary of the Second World War represent a unique opportunity for Canadians to reflect on our country's long and proud military history," said Minister Fantino. "Throughout this period, the Government of Canada, in collaboration with partners in Canada and abroad, will carry out a variety of commemorative initiatives marking the tremendous sacrifices and accomplishments of all those who served during these Great Wars."
With the beginning of the centennial of the First World War in 2014, Canada will participate in the Bastille Day Military Parade in France. In 2015, the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli will be marked with commemorative ceremonies in Turkey. A highlight in 2016 will be the 100th anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. Centennial events will culminate with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge where thousands of students are expected to join in honouring Canada's Veterans of the First World War. Battles related to Canada's Hundred Days, which led to the Armistice, will also be commemorated during this period.
Canada will also take part in marking significant anniversaries of the Second World War including both the 70th and 75th anniversaries of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, and the 75th anniversaries of the Dieppe Raid, Victory in Europe Day, the Italian Campaign and the end of the Second World War.
"Some 1.1 million Canadians served in uniform during the conflict, proving their valour time and again against the enemies of freedom, democracy and the rule of law," said Minister Fantino. "Canada's Veterans made incredible efforts—storming the beaches of France, braving the difficult terrain of Italy and withstanding punishing conditions on land, sea and air. I look forward to having Canadians join together with people around the world in remembering their sacrifices."
Minister Fantino also reiterated the Government of Canada's commitment to establish a permanent Visitor Education Centre at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial to be completed by April 9, 2017, the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Earlier this year, the governments of Canada and France signed a Canada-France declaration recognizing the importance of preserving the memory of the conflicts of the 20th century. The Ministerial Seminar is a result of this joint commitment.
The First World War (1914-1918) and the Second World War (1939-1945) are among the most important chapters in world history. Both of these 20th century global conflicts touched the lives of countless families and communities across Canada and Newfoundland. Sadly, more than 110,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders lost their lives during the two World Wars. The 100th and 75th anniversaries of these great wars will provide all Canadians with opportunities to celebrate their proud heritage and, more importantly, to honour those who served and continue to serve our country to uphold the values of peace, freedom and democracy.
For more information on Canada's role in the First World War and the Second World War, visit veterans.gc.ca.
Veterans Affairs Canada's support and services offer the right care at the right time to achieve the best results for Veterans and their families. Find out more at veterans.gc.ca
SOURCE: Veterans Affairs Canada
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