Though it is two years away, events are in motion to mark the 100th anniversary of the Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge in France during the First World War.
If all goes to plan, there will be a local component to the ceremonies, as an opportunity has arisen for the 1813 Army Cadets, based in Cranbrook, to participate.
Despite the passage of time, the military victory at Vimy Ridge is still a source of national pride, as Canadian troops captured an escarpment from a Germany army in the opening phase of the Battle of Arras in April 1917.
The 1813 Cadets are hoping to go to France to take part in ceremonies marking the centennial and are actively fundraising even though there’s still two years to go.
However, bringing 20 cadets overseas carries a hefty cost and the cadets need to raise about $100,000 to make the trip cost-free for their parents.
“The Canadian troops were instrumental in the battle of Vimy—there were over 10,000 Canadian troops that participated and ultimately won at the battle of Vimy Ridge,” said Barb Smythe, the chairperson for the executive committee of the 1813 Cadet Corps.
“It’s hugely important. They will actually be able to take part in the ceremonies in full dress uniform so it represents Canada as well as our youth.”
It’s more than just a trip to commemorate Vimy Ridge, as the cadets will travel throughout Western Europe to visit battle sites of the First and Second World War, along with other places such as Anne Frank’s house and the concentration camp of Auschwitz.
“It’s not just Vimy—they fly in for the anniversary, and then it’s a two weeks of travelling to include a lot of the other things to make this real for these guys.”
The post-ceremony travel was booked through a company that specializes in touring for sites of historical significance in the two world wars.
Though the cadet corps has two years to raise the $100,000, they have to pay $20,000 of the total by the end of the summer, or face the prospect of cancelling the trip.
“The August deadline is looming and we seem to be getting nowhere,” Smythe said. “If we do not raise the needed funds by the deadline, we will forfeit close to $8,000 and have to cancel the trip.”
The cadets have set up a GoFundMe page—http://www.gofundme.com/lgcgi0—and are organizing a number of events over the coming months to fundraise for the trip.
The next fundraiser will be a car was and barbecue at Cranbrook Dodge on Sunday, May 3, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Included will be a raffle for two four-day passes to the Rockin’ River music festival in Merritt.
For more information on the fundraising efforts or the Vimy Ridge trip, contact Smythe via email at email@example.com.