Thank you and good morning
Ambassador (Lawrence) Cannon,
Ambassador (Denis) Robert,
Mr. (Denis) Robin (Préfet of the Pas-de-Calais),
Vice-Admiral (Bob) Davidson,
Lieutenant-Colonel (Daniel) Cian,
Members of the Canadian Armed Forces,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to be here today, as Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman, to help mark the 97th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
As others have said before me, it is truly a humbling experience to stand here on this hallowed ground.
The Minister of Veterans Affairs, the honourable Julian Fantino, has spoken eloquently of the extraordinary courage of all four divisions of the Canadian Corps, who fought as one for the first time on that day.
After, they continued to fight together for the remainder of the War, gaining the reputation of being the “shock troops” of the British Commonwealth.
Their achievement, which started on Vimy Ridge and ultimately forced peace, helped forge Canada into the independent country that it is today.
Some argue that World War One was Canada’s War of independence. For that, we will eternally hold in our highest regard the brave soldiers who took this ridge.
just before the Battle of Vimy Ridge then- conservative prime minister Robert Borden acknowledged the Government of Canada’s duty to care for the wounded by saying:
“The government and the country will consider it their first duty to see that a proper appreciation of your effort and of your courage is brought to the notice of people at home that no man, whether he goes back or whether he remains in Flanders, will have just cause to reproach the government for having broken faith with the men who won and the men who died.”
However, despite the assurances of the then-Prime Minister, many Veterans struggled when they returned home. Canada was not prepared to receive the tens of thousands of casualties that the brutality of this type of warfare generated. As a country, we had to create the programs and build the infrastructure needed on the fly to support our Veterans.
from those humble beginnings and first tentative steps to help the wounded, we have learned from our mistakes. Since then, there has been a vast expansion of public and private support for Canadian soldiers and their families. And, we continue today to build on this legacy by strengthening the benefits and services to meet the ever evolving needs of our Veterans.
I salute the sacrifices of the Veterans of Vimy Ridge and every Veteran since who has given so much so that we can live in peace.
At this site the past and the present come together. Your sacrifice made us a nation and your nation honours you.
Lest we forget.