Hollande, Trudeau Pay Tribute to Canada's WWI Casualties

The variety of commemorative activities were created to bring Canadians, especially youth, together, to honour Canada's victory at the Battle of Vimy Ridge and contribution to the First World War. They faced a near-impossible task: charge up a muddy, seven-kilometre-long ridge and force enemy troops off.

In a statement, Trudeau paid tribute to the Francophones, Anglophones, immigrants and Indigenous people who fought for Canada in the battle.

"On Easter Monday, April 1917, battling through snow, sleet, and constant machine gun fire, they broke through an impregnable fortress and achieved a historic victory. For the first time, all four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force fought together, under the command of a Canadian", said Premier Christy Clark in a statement.

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The battle has become an important part of Canada's national identity, symbolizing the shift from a former British colony to a nation on its own.

The cemetery is the final resting place for thousands of soldiers from the Great War, including 700 Canadians.

Before the ceremony Charles and his sons will tour some of the conflict's trenches that were reconstructed a few years after the end of the First World War. Through innovation and meticulous planning, the Canadians took the heavily fortified stronghold, but not before 3,600 were killed and more than 7,000 injured. Let us remember those soldiers who sacrificed so much and let us strive always for a better understanding of our history and for peace.

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"They are telling us peace is the most precious gift and it's the greatest merit of Europe to have realized that dream. We must remain committed to continue to tell their stories so those who fought here are never forgotten".

The government of Canada hosted Sunday's somber ceremony of official speeches and performances by Canadian artists such as singer Loreena McKennitt. The monument consists of a red metallic base with sculptures of soldiers' feet.

Angry opposition in the province of Quebec to the First World War and the military conscription that eventually came with it have receded into memory, just as Vimy Ridge has emerged as what most historians consider the seminal event of Canadian nationhood.

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He says it took a toll on Canadian soldiers.

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