Remembering Vimy: Local vets to hold candlelight ceremony

The battle of Vimy Ridge will be honoured by Abbotsford residents next month when the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 15, hosts a commemorative ceremony at the local cenotaph.

A photo taken during the battle of Vimy Ridge

A photo taken during the battle of Vimy Ridge

The battle of Vimy Ridge will be honoured by Abbotsford residents next month when the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch 15, hosts a commemorative ceremony at the local cenotaph.

A candlelit vigil will be held on Saturday, April 9 at 7 p.m. outside of Abbotsford City Hall on South Fraser Way, to celebrate Vimy Ridge Day – a first for the local Royal Canadian Legion.

According to Peter Slade with the branch, the service will be similar to the Remembrance Day ceremony held every November.

However, it will be smaller and the laying of wreaths will be replaced by the placing of candles in red containers.

It will be attended by local MP’s and MLAs, Mayor George Peary, former mayor George Ferguson, and the Royal Westminster Regiment along with local service organizations.

Candlelight vigil ceremonies were started in the Netherlands in 1995, where the local children attend the graves of Canadian servicemen and women who died liberating the Netherland in World War II.  Since then the idea has been taken up by the Royal Canadian Legion.

Established by the Canadian  government in 2003, Vimy Ridge Day commemorates April 9, 1917, when the four Canadian divisions fought together for the first time as a united Canadian corps under mostly Canadian commanders.

The seemingly impenetrable enemy defences along the 15-kilometre length of high ground known as Vimy Ridge, had caused previous attacks by French and later French/British armies to be unsuccessful, with heavy loss of life.  The camaraderie established by the Canadian way of approaching their objective and the thoroughness of training and preparation before the battle, led to a great victory for the Canadian troops.

This was a key factor in establishing the Canadians as a crack force, but moreso, it established a new and stronger sense of Canadian national identity.   After Vimy, the success of the Canadian corps success raised the nation’s international stature and earned Canada a separate signature on the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war.

The government of France granted to Canada the land around Vimy Ridge for all time.  The Vimy Memorial was built in 1936 and rises above the now-quiet countryside. It stands as a tribute to all who served their country in battle and paid such a price to help ensure the peace and freedom Canadians enjoy today.

For more information contact Peter Slade at pwslade@shaw.ca.