Three thousand, five hundred-ninety eight Canadian soldiers dead. Seven thousand wounded.
In three days, Canada did something no other country had done; we took Vimy Ridge. After being called to service in the wake of failed attempts by both the British and French forces, we knew this was our chance.
Vimy Ridge was a fierce battle. Utilizing all four Canadian divisions against three German divisions, all on one battlefield, led by the first Canadian commander of our forces, Sir Arthur William Currie, in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region of France, fought primarily as part of the Battle of Arras.
Having been one of the few cadets to visit the battlefields and memorials on the 100th anniversary last year, I can attest to the chilling feeling of standing where a brave young man once lost his life.
Now, let me paint you a picture.
It’s April 9, 1917, in the early morning. Dew just settling on the last remaining plants spread across the war-torn land. The first gunshots, the first screams, heard by anyone capable of bearing such memories of pain and unimaginable agony. Ending just three days later on April 12.
So, why, after over 100 years and 10,000 casualties do we stand here honouring their actions? We stand here because their sacrifice helped to shape Canada into what it is today.
The importance of Vimy Ridge was not only a battle won during the First World War but a momentous step towards Canada’s independence. We used this battle as an opportunity to show how strong we were and still are today.
Using all four divisions, west to east, including our own PPCLI from Edmonton. This brought us together, stronger than ever, overseas and on the home front, proving that we have our own voice and it is loud.
One hundred and one years ago today, brave men fought and died. Through their selflessness, we showed the international community what Canada really is — united, strong, and proud.
Emma Lavigne is a cadet with the 2276 PPCLI Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry Corps.