Veterans Affairs Canada

Veterans Affairs Canada

June 08, 2006 10:42 ET

Veterans Help Youth Understand Canadian Contribution at the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel

ST. JOHN'S, NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR--(CCNMatthews - June 8, 2006) - Canadian youth, Veterans and members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment were in attendance today for the announcement of plans to mark the 90th Anniversary of the Battles of the Somme and Beaumont-Hamel. The Honourable Greg Thompson, Minister of Veterans Affairs, together with the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans and Minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador, made the announcement during a press conference today.

To commemorate this significant anniversary, an official Government of Canada delegation, including youth, war-era Veterans and Canadian Forces Veterans, will participate in commemorative ceremonies at First World War battlefields and memorial sites in northern France from June 27 to July 5, 2006, including a signature program at Beaumont-Hamel on July 1.

"The legacy of those Newfoundlanders and Canadians who fought on the Somme is part of our proud Canadian heritage - a heritage that must be commemorated and preserved," said Minister Thompson. "Canada's youth play a key role in ensuring the achievements and sacrifice of Canada's First World War heroes are remembered. By learning about those who risked their lives in the pursuit of peace, youth honour their memory."

"This commemorative journey is a wonderful opportunity for Newfoundlanders and Canadians to understand the contribution of our Veterans," said the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, and representative of Newfoundland and Labrador. "It will be an incredible experience for youth delegates. And it will give me a greater appreciation of the many contributions which resulted in the peace and freedom that we as Canadians experience today."

The Government of Canada delegation will include youth representatives from every province and territory in Canada. Nine of the total 39 students were chosen from the province of Newfoundland and Labrador because of its connection with Beaumont-Hamel. In addition, six war-era Veterans, six Canadian Forces Veterans, Parliamentarians, representatives from 12 Veterans' organizations and other officials will be in attendance.

"It is wonderful to have so many Canadian youth attending this event so that they can get to know the history before them," said CWO (Ret'd) Stanley Carr, Korean War Veteran. "This learning process will help the youth mature as they understand what their countrymen did for our nation."

"I owe my freedom to the sacrifice of our Veterans, and am thrilled to have this opportunity to appreciate what they gave, to learn about their lives and to pay homage to them," said Annelise Petlock, representative of The War Amps Operation Legacy Youth.

Ceremonies will also be held in Canada to honour the 90th Anniversary. As part of Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa, a commemorative ceremony will be held at the National War Memorial on the morning of July 1. The ceremony will include a parade of colours, a Veterans' and Canadian Forces Military Parade, the Canadian Forces Band, a service of remembrance and a wreath laying ceremony, and will be followed by the traditional Canada Day flag-raising ceremony.

In St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, on July 1, the Provincial Command of the Royal Canadian Legion will hold its traditional Memorial Day ceremonies, which include an early-morning wreath-laying ceremony at Mount Pleasant Cemetery, followed by a ceremony at 11:00 a.m. at the province's National War Memorial, co-organized with the Department of National Defence.

For more information on the Battle of the Somme, including Beaumont-Hamel, visit the Veterans Affairs Canada Web site at www.vac-acc.gc.ca.

Contact Information

  • Veterans Affairs Canada
    Pamela Price
    Media Relations Advisor
    (902) 368-0294
    or
    Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs
    Gerald A. Lefebvre
    Director of Communications
    (613) 996-4649
    or
    Office of Minister Hearn
    Steve Outhouse
    Director of Communications
    (613) 947-4483