Hundreds gather in Sutton from across York Region for Vimy centennial ceremony
April 10, 2017
By Heidi Riedner
Hundreds gathered to share a moving mix of solemnity and pride during the centennial parade and ceremony in the heart of Sutton Sunday, April 9 commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
Royal Canadian Legion members and cadet corps from across York Region led an impressive procession of York Regional Police officers, male choir, mounted unit and pipe band, Upper Canada Cavalry members, Georgina Fire Department and CF Base Borden 16 wing personnel down High Street for an emotional ceremony at the Cenotaph Sunday afternoon.
Scripture, prayer, the laying of wreaths, a smudging ceremony by Chippewas of Georgina Island elder Shelley Charles and words from dignitaries representing all levels of government including York-Simcoe MP Peter Van Loan, York-Simcoe MPP Julia Munro and Georgina Mayor Margaret Quirk, were followed by the emotional and poignant thoughts of Sgt. Samuel Berube of the Queen's York Rangers 2799 Army Cadet Corps.
Berube, 15, participated in the Sutton ceremony fresh on the heels of visiting various battle sites in France with fellow cadets, with the Canadian memorial in Vimy chief among them.
He spoke of the names “written in stone for us to remember, hopefully forever” on the magnificent beauty of the monument as it emerged from the fog on his visit a few short weeks ago.
“All those people who fought and died there are not just numbers ... they are individuals, people who all had dreams and hopes, just like you and me, and everyone attending here."
While those dreams were cut short and their hopes shattered, their sacrifice was not in vain, Berube said, adding it is the duty of the living to remember.
“Not remembering and studying these events properly is not only a disrespect of the Canadians who fought for us in this generation and the lives we live, but it is also being ignorant of the facts and the things that happened,” Berube said.
He added at his age now, close to the age of so many lives lost and injured in battle 100 years ago, he “truly understands” and can begin to understand the enormity of the events that took place 100 years ago and feel a tremendous sense of pride and respect.
“As I walked the fields of Vimy with my fellow cadets, I felt a very strong connection with the site and with our ancestors, who fought there 100 years ago, for us. We should all be part of ceremonies such as these today, in small towns or in Vimy, France, happening right now … So, for everyone who is here now, lest we forget, je me souviendrai. Thank you. Merci.”