Reception in Honour of the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
Ottawa, Ontario, Wednesday, March 22, 2017
I begin with words of condolence for victims of the terrible attack in London today.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all who have been affected.
One hundred years ago, Britain, France and Canada stood together in trying times. Our democracies were tested at Vimy and throughout the First World War, and today’s attack in London—as with other attacks that have occurred in our countries and elsewhere around the world—similarly tests the depth of our commitment to our values.
Today as then, we stand in solidarity for justice, peace and freedom for all.
Thank you for being here, and my thanks to the Embassy of France in partnership with the Vimy Foundation for holding this reception tonight.
This is a very important anniversary.
The Battle of Vimy Ridge was an extraordinary victory, one with great strategic and symbolic significance for both Canada and France.
Here in Canada, of course, the battle is seen as a coming-of-age for our military and, for many, of Canada.
The soldiers of the Canadian Corps fought bravely, with great skill and determination and ingenuity.
Today, there are no remaining veterans of the First World War.
That means one thing above all:
That it’s up to us to remember what happened in the war and to honour the veterans of Vimy.
This is our solemn duty.
I am so grateful to the members and supporters of the Vimy Foundation for your dedication to the memory of this very important event in our history.
Your commitment to learning about the battle and to educating Canadians and people from around the world is so essential.
Not least, this includes the creation of the new Vimy Visitor Education Centre, which will open during the centennial commemorations.
As you know, this anniversary is an opportunity to deepen our appreciation of the significance of Vimy and of the extraordinary sacrifices that occurred there.
In a few weeks’ time my wife, Sharon, and I will travel to France for the commemorations at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial.
We will also participate in a number of related events in nearby communities.
We look forward to seeing many of you there.
It’s a great privilege to represent Canada as commander-in-chief, to honour those who served so bravely and brilliantly and to remember why, following the war, the world pledged to “never again” engage in such devastation.
I thank you all for likewise honouring the veterans of Vimy, for remembering their service and for keeping the lessons of the war alive.
Lest we forget.