Minister of Finance Michael de Jong has sad that “the brave young men who fought on Vimy Ridge not only won a battle, but are also part of a legacy that has often been referred to as the birth of a nation. As Canadians we owe a debt of gratitude to the lives lost and affected by this valiant victory. British Columbia is proud to support the Vimy Foundation’s Centennial Park to help ensure the honour and memory of British Columbians and Canadians who fought on the ridge at Vimy will never be forgotten.”
In honour of the Canadians and British Columbians involved in the victory at Vimy Ridge in 1917, Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced today that the Province will contribute $350,000 to the Vimy Foundation to support the creation of a Centennial Park at the site of the battle.
The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park will be located adjacent to the Vimy monument in France. This unique area will be comprised of 100 Vimy Oak trees symbolizing the centennial. These trees are direct descendants of acorns collected following the battle in April 1917 and will be planted in a circular pattern four deep to represent the four divisions of the Canadian Forces that fought together for the first time at the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Benches and reflective areas in full view of the famous monument will also be part of the park. Funding also will be provided to support participation by local cadets at the ceremony in France.
British Columbians supported the war effort in great numbers, and facilitated the raising and mobilization a great number of Battalions for the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Units from around the province were part of the victory, including:
- 2nd Battalion (Canadian Mounted Rifles) – recruited from Victoria and Vernon;
- 29th Battalion (Vancouver) – recruited from Vancouver and New Westminster;
- 102nd Battalion (Northern British Columbia) – recruited from Northern B.C. and Comox; and
- 131st Battalion (Westminster) – recruited from New Westminster.
Estimates suggest that 81 British Columbians lost their lives between April 1 and May 1, 1917. Of those, 47 soldiers are commemorated on the Vimy Memorial, 10 soldiers are buried at La Chaudière Military Cemetery, Vimy, and 21 soldiers are buried at Canadian Cemetery No. 2, Neuville-St. Vaast. British Columbia lost three nursing sisters who are buried in cemeteries tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The current monument on the grounds welcomes approximately 700,000 visitors a year. The centennial anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge is taking place on April 9. The official commemorative ceremonies are taking place at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial, organized by the Government of Canada (Veterans Affairs Canada) and an estimated 30,000 Canadians will be in attendance.
de Jong attended the Vimy Centennial Celebration gala dinner in Toronto on March 20, 2017, in support of the Centennial Park and the Centennial Legacy Fund that will help send 25 students to travel to Europe each year for the next five years and ensure Canadian youth ‘walk through the footsteps of history’ and experience Canadian history first hand.