- Commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
In Ottawa, the celebrations started on April 5, 2007, with a performance organized by the Embassy of France and the National Arts Centre and staged by three comedians who read letters written by Canadian soldiers during the First World War. This event was greatly appreciated for its fantastic artistic quality and its realistic portrayal of the war. The night before the commemoration, a list of names and photos of the 3,598 Canadian soldiers, who died in the Vimy Ridge Battle, was projected against the National War Memorial in Ottawa. Hundreds of people and war veterans gathered together in honour of the commemoration and military parade.
The morning of April 9th, in Ottawa, the Ambassador of France in Canada took part in the commemoration lead by the Governor General. Two French students from the Lycée Claudel placed a wreath on the memorial in the name of young people in France.
All over the country, the focus was on the young people’s “duty to remember”, following the example of the 3,598 Canadian high school students who travelled to France, thanks to a fundraiser held at their school; each student represented one of the 3, 598 Canadian soldiers who died during the Vimy Ridge Battle.
- Normandy Day
In 2004, Mr. Luc Couillard founded Normandy Day (Association De La Journée De La Normandie). His main goal was to help commemorate the Normandy Landings and to observe this world-wide renowned event, June 6, 1944, with convivial events in Normandy as well as abroad (i.e. Great Britain, U.S., Canada, etc.). It is important to remember this historic event and to pass down memories to younger generations.
This initiative, which started in France in June 2004, highlights France’s deep gratitude for the people and governments who contributed to the liberation of Europe. It shows how much France values the roles played by the governments who took part in the landings.
Normandy Day aims to strengthen the humanitarian values that define D-Day and to bring people together through festivities.
The next step is to develop these efforts in countries directly related to D-Day: U.S., Great Britain, Canada, etc.
In addition to shared memories, such an initiative can help bring peoples together, namely French and Canada.
The year 2009 will be one of the last celebrations of the landings that World War II veterans will be able to attend. Therefore, June 6, 2009, is the perfect date to establish new festive events in Canada, which would be continued every year thereafter.
- 97 Canadian veterans receive the Légion d’Honneur
Between 2004 and 2007, 97 World War II Canadian veterans, who actively took part in the liberation of Europe, received the prestigious Légion d’Honneur.
Introduced in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Légion d’Honneur is a military and civil award. It honours individuals who have carried out exceptional military or civil actions.
The first awards were given in 2004 at the time of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. Three of the Canadian veterans were decorated by Jacques Chirac, former president of the French Republic.
The other recipients were decorated at their residencies by the Ambassador of France or General Consuls during official ceremonies with local authorities, reserve regiments and relevant associations.
Family members, the media and representatives of the Canadian Armed Forces were all present at these ceremonies; these were very emotional events for those involved.
These award ceremonies, organized by the Military Mission at the Embassy of France in Ottawa, were achieved through the close cooperation between the Canadian veterans and defence ministries, veterans associations and the Chancellery of Honours, Rideau Hall, in charge of medals and honorary distinctions.
- The Lcol Duran receives the Meritorious Service Medal
On January 14, 2009, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, announced that Meritorious Service Medals (military division) would be awarded to two individuals for their particular accomplishments in Canada: Col. Steven M. Czepiga of the American Armed Forces and the Lcol Jean-Pierre Duran of the French Armed Forces.
The recipients will be invited to receive their awards at a later date.
The Lcol Duran demonstrated commitment and exceptional professionalism as Deputy Defence Attaché at the Embassy of France in Ottawa, from 2005 to 2008. The Lcol Duran organized a wide variety of commemorative activities for former and current members of the Canadian military, thereby undeniably contributing to strengthening France-Canada relations.