Manitoulin Sea Cadets head to France this week for Vimy Ridge 100th anniv.

Island representatives will join 800 cadets at memorial

FRANCE—Members of the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps will be travelling to France this week for the 100th anniversary commemorative ceremony of the Battle of Vimy Ridge at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France. The six Island cadets, along with their four chaperones, will join 800 cadets and an expected 25,000 Canadians for the ceremony.

“We will be leaving Thursday (April 6) and flying into Paris,” explained Manitoulin Sea Cadet Training Officer Lieutenant (Navy) Denis Blake. “We will be spending the first three days in northern France and then we will be attending the Vimy Ridge ceremony on (Sunday) April 9. My understanding is that the cadets will be standing in front of the crowd in uniform along with the other 800 cadets attending. The prime minister (Justin Trudeau) will be attending, along with an expected 25,000 Canadians and the Royals (Prince Charles, William and Harry).”

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is the largest Canadian Memorial to the First World War in Europe which commemorates the 3,600 Canadian soldiers who were killed in action and the over 7,000 who were wounded during the battle. The commemorative ceremony on April 9 will be hosted by Veterans Affairs Canada.

“The relationship between Canada and France remains strong with the Canadian National Vimy Memorial’s two soaring pylons serving as a lasting symbol of our two countries, joined together by the spirit of sacrifice,” said the Minister of Veterans Affairs Kent Hehr in a press release. “This magnificent memorial honours all who served Canada in battle and risked or gave their lives during the First World War. It is my sincere hope that your experience at Vimy and in the City of Arras during the centennial commemorative events will be both unforgettable and inspiring.”

During their time in France the Manitoulin cadets will be travelling with an Air Cadets Corps from Orillia, doing a number of tours including some in Paris. A special trip will be made to a Canadian military cemetery where the cadets have each done research on one of the soldiers laid to rest there and will be presenting the stories of their solder.

“The cadets have been excited for months,” shared Lieutenant (Navy) Blake. “The tour packages arrived recently, which was also exciting for them. They have been looking forward to this trip and fundraising for it for the past year-and-a-half. The fundraising support has been exceptional with donations made from large companies, local businesses, individuals, service groups and townships. The donations have paid for the trip for the cadets plus extras like the bus to take them to the airport in Toronto and cover the costs of their lunch in France, which was not included in the tour. We also have enough funds to look at additional tours during our trip if time allows.”

The Manitoulin Sea Cadets will be holding a presentation on their trip upon their return hosted by the Little Current Royal Canadian Legion Branch #177 at the Northeast Town Recreation Centre.