Canada came of age as a nation in Battle of Vimy Ridge

Terry Debassige, left, on behalf of the M’Chigeeng First Nation, and veteran Ray Constantineau of the War Pensioners of Canada, take part in the wreath laying ceremony. photo by Tom Sasvari

M’CHIGEENG—The War Pensioners of Canada (WPC) and the community of M’Chigeeng hosted the 101st anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the M’Chigeeng First Nation cenotaph on Friday, April 6.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge was one of the greatest Canadian victories during the First World War, but it came with tremendous sacrifice, with 3,598 Canadian soldiers killed and 100,000 French casualties.

After the call to order by master of ceremonies Colin Pick, president of the War Pensioners of Canada (WPC), and O’Canada sung by all in attendance, the opening prayer was delivered by Rev. Red Butler who expressed gratitude “for this freedom that we enjoy and to acknowledge those who made the ultimate sacrifice.”

Terry Debassige represented the M’Chigeeng First Nation who said, “we are very grateful that you are hosting these ceremonies today and honouring our veterans. In reading some of the names on the cenotaph he said that both “David Migwans and David Debassige were in the battle  at Vimy Ridge. They went over in the 114th Native Batallion which was made up mostly of Anishinabek and Six Nations members, but after arriving in England they were dispersed to other units.”

Rev. Red Butler then delivered a tribute to Vimy Ridge. He pointed out “the Ridge was actually seven kilometers long and the French casualties numbered 100,000. The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place April 9-12, 1917 and four Canadian divisions fought as a unified force for the first time.”

“There were 3,598 Canadians soldiers killed in the battle,” said Rev. Butler. “It was incredible the bravery and sacrifice displayed by all those who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge and some say Canada came of age as a country on those harsh April days in 1917.”

Rev. Butler said, “if you look on the backside of a Canadian $20 bill you will see a picture of the memorial erected as a reminder of the battle that was in the location where the battle the battle took place as a tribute to the Battle of Vimy Ridge.”

Mr. Debassige then read the names marked on the M’Chigeeng First Nation Cenotaph, those included Isadore Debassige, Issac Debassige, John Debassige, Tom Debassige, David Debassige, Ernest Debassige, Frank Debassige, George Debassige, Albert Migwans, David Migwans, Laurence  Migwans, Paddy Migwans, Raymond Migwans, Issac Modess, Wilfred-Rene Cada, Stanley Modess, Justin Roy, Angus Able, Vincent Able, Cecil Ace, Fred Ace, Jonas Anwhatin, Charlie Beaudin, Jim Bisson, Dominic Corbiere, Frank Corbiere, George Corbiere, Phillip Corbiere and William Corbiere.

Last Post, Silence and Reveille was lead by Brother Wayne Golden, a reading of In Flanders Fields by Colin Pick and a rifle salute from the Sergeant Charles Golden Silver Star Veterans Rifle Team, led by Brother Wayne Golden, with Ed Duncan, Donald Patrie, Dennis Golden, Gary Trimmer and Paul Abbott.

A laying of wreaths at the cenotaph was carried out by Terry Debassige and WPC member-veteran Ray Constantineau, while the Act of Remembrance was delivered by Mr. Constantineau. Closing remarks were delivered by Mr. Pick. The closing prayer was delivered by Rev. Red Butler and God Save the Queen was sung by all in attendance.