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Sask. residents mark 100th anniversary of battle at Vimy Ridge
Published Sunday, April 9, 2017 5:45PM CST
Last Updated Sunday, April 9, 2017 6:52PM CST
It was a defining moment in the First World War and in Canadian history. On Sunday, Canadians marked the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
In Saskatchewan, hundreds gathered at ceremonies to remember the fallen soldiers who gave their lives for freedom.
Saskatoon’s Vimy Ridge memorial in Kiwanis Park was built in 1937 – and offered a gathering place for residents to remember the soldiers who fought in World War I.
“My father was at Vimy and many of the other battles of World War I,” said Robert Atkinson. The 92-year-old fought in the Second World War and laid a wreath at the war memorial for the soldiers who fought and died at Vimy Ridge.
“There’s been so much more talk about the events of the world and the wars that we were involved in,” he said. “It’s very comforting to see.”
A century after the historic battle, a younger generation of cadets is ready to carry the torch. Murray Shaw travelled to Vimy last summer, and says he will keep April 9, 1917, in his heart forever.
“When we first got there, it was kind of an overwhelming feeling,” he said. “Seeing how tall the monument is, and seeing all the names on the monument, was overwhelming.”
It was an emotional day for World War II veteran George Durbin. He was recognized for his work with the Royal Canadian Legion at the reopening of the Royal Canadian Legion Museum in Regina on Sunday. After years of renovations, it opened its doors to the public again on the centennial anniversary of Vimy Ridge.
“It’s in really good shape,” Durbin said. “They’re looking after it really well.”
The rededication of the museum was one of many ceremonies across the Queen City. Commemoration events ranged from a sombre anniversary at the Victoria Park cenotaph to a service at the Saskatchewan Legislature.
Many people attending the ceremony remembered how the pivotal battle is connected to so many Canadians.
“It’s an act of remembrance for me and my son, any my whole family,” said Cpt. Trent Walton, an air cadet instructor cadre officer. “I have a great grandpa and a great uncle (who) both fought at Vimy Ridge. My great uncle, his name is actually on Vimy Ridge.”
The First Nations University Powwow held a moment of silence to honour the soldiers who died at Vimy Ridge.
“I will find a way to build a monument to honour those veterans from my home territory,” veteran Phillip Ledoux said at the Powwow.
It was a battle that defined an entire nation – with the effects still felt in Saskatchewan residents 100 years later.
“It doesn’t matter how long ago it was, we have to remember the veterans,” said John Davidson, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 63. “Especially those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom and democracy that we enjoy here today.”
With files from CTV's Taylor Rattray and Mark Villani