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News

Visit to France and Belgium - 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

April 5, 2012

Governor General will be Marking the 95th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

OTTAWA—At the request of the Right Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, Their Excellencies the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, and Mrs. Sharon Johnston will travel to France and Belgium, from April 8 to 10, 2012, to take part in special events commemorating the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

“The lessons of the First World War are many, and we must always remember the enormous sacrifice of Canadians who served and fell in the fields of France and Belgium,” said the Governor General. “Sharon and I will undertake this visit knowing that, out of the staggering death and destruction of that conflict, Canadians have been able to grasp and carry forward that which is true and honourable and lasting, including a commitment to working together and to always remembering the terrible cost of war.”

The Governor General and Mrs. Johnston will join the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, as well as a Canadian delegation and nearly 5 000 Canadian students to take part in various activities and commemorations surrounding the anniversary.

For more information on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, including the schedule of events overseas, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada site at www.veterans.gc.ca.

Detailed itinerary:

Sunday, April 8
Lille-Lesquin, France

12:30 a.m.
Arrival of Their Excellencies in France
Their Excellencies will arrive in France at the Lille-Lesquin international airport.
Aéroport international de Lille-Lesquin
PHOTO OP

Sunday, April 8
Beaumont-Hamel, France

2:00 p.m.
Ceremony at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial
Their Excellencies will take part in a ceremony at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in the presence of hundreds of young Canadians. The Governor General will deliver a speech.

The Memorial commemorates all Newfoundlanders who fought in the Great War, particularly those who have no known grave. The site is one of the few in France or Belgium where a visitor can see the trench lines of a Great War battlefield and the related terrain. For more information, visit http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/memorials/ww1mem/beaumonthamel.
OPEN TO MEDIA

Sunday, April 8
Ypres (Ieper), Belgium

6:45 p.m.
Meeting with
the Belgian Defence Minister and the Minister-President of Flanders
The Governor General will meet with Mr. Peter De Crem, Belgian Defence Minister and Mr. Kris Peeters, Minister-President of Flanders, to discuss the relations between our nations.
Ypres (Ieper) City Hall, Grote Markt Albert I 34

PHOTO OP
– At the beginning of the meeting

7:00 p.m.
Reception hosted by the Mayor of Ypres (Ieper)
Their Excellencies will be invited to a reception hosted by the Mayor of Ypres (Ieper), Mr. Luc Dehaene. The Governor General will offer remarks.
Ypres (Ieper) City Hall, Grote Markt Albert I 34
OPEN TO MEDIA – Only during the remarks

8:00 p.m.
Ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial
Their Excellencies and the Mayor of Ypres (Ieper), Mr. Luc Dehaene, will take part in a ceremony at the Menin Gate Memorial.

After the war this 17th century gate in the eastern ramparts of Ypres was chosen as the site of the Memorial Arch. The Arch would commemorate, by name, nearly 55 000 dead of the armies of the Commonwealth who fell in Belgium. Of these, 6 940 are Canadians. For more information, visit http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/memorials/ww1mem/menin.
Menin Gate Memorial
OPEN TO MEDIA

Monday, April 9,
Arras, France

9:30 a.m.
Visit to the Wellington Quarry
Their Excellencies will visit the Wellington Quarry, a historic underground site that allows visitors to share the experience of thousands of soldiers before the offensive of April 9, 1917. The Governor General and Mrs. Johnston will also attend a commemorative ceremony alongside Canadian students. For more information, visit www.carriere-wellington.com.
Rue Delétoille – 62000 Arras
OPEN TO MEDIA

Monday, April 9
Vimy, France

3:30 p.m.
Remembrance Ceremony in honour of the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
Their Excellencies will take part in the remembrance ceremony in honour of the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. The Governor General will deliver a speech during which he reflect upon the importance of this battle for Canadians and the lessons that our nation learned with respect to courage, ingenuity, co-operation and compassion. For more information on the 95th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, visit http://veterans.gc.ca/eng/feature/vimy-ridge.
Canadian National Vimy Memorial
OPEN TO MEDIA

6:10 p.m.
Reception hosted by the Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Affairs
Their Excellencies will be invited to a reception hosted by Mr. Marc Laffineur, Secretary of State for Defence and Veterans Affairs. The Governor General will deliver a speech.
Hôtel de la Préfecture, Rue Ferdinand Buisson – 62020 Arras
OPEN TO MEDIA – During speeches only

Monday, April 9
Liévin, France

8:00 p.m.
Canadian cultural evening
Their Excellencies will join thousands of Canadian students for a cultural evening with the theme of celebrating the birth of a nation. The Governor General will deliver a speech (at approximately 9:00 p.m.). Musical acts Hey Rosetta and Spirit of the Westwill perform.
Stade de Liévin
OPEN TO MEDIA

Tuesday, April 10
Thélus, France

9:45 a.m.
Commemorative activities at the Thélus commune
Their Excellencies will visit the Bois-Carre British Cemetery in Thélus, a township of Vimy, where more than 200 Canadians are buried. The Governor General and Mrs. Johnston will then take part in a ceremony at the Canadian memorial in Thélus, which may be attended by the local community. The Governor General will speak. Their Excellencies will also attend the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at Thélus City Hall.
Bois-Carre British Cemetery, Thélus Memorial and Thélus City Hall
OPEN TO MEDIA – Only at the beginning of the visit to the cemetery

Tuesday, April 10
Beaurains, France

2:30 p.m.
Visit to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC)
Their Excellencies will visit the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the organization that maintains gravesites in France. The French office employs some 420 people, most of whom are gardeners forming 35 mobile horticultural teams. Each team is responsible for maintaining the cemeteries and memorials for a particular region. For more information, visit www.cwgc.org.
OPEN TO MEDIA

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Media information:

In Ottawa:
Julie Rocheleau
Rideau Hall Press Office
613-998-7280
julie.rocheleau@gg.ca

In France and Belgium:
Joanne Charette
Official Spokesperson to the Governor General
33 6 79 62 85 93
joanne.charette@gg.ca

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