The 100th Anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge is just two days away. On monumental occasions such as these, the importance of education and raising awareness about Canada’s history often comes to the fore in public discourse. Consequently it is interesting, and encouraging, to note the results of the Vimy Foundation’s April 2016 poll, when the overwhelming majority of Canadians (87%) agreed with the importance and relevance of carrying on this education.
A November 2016 Poll by the Vimy Foundation asked respondents to identify the number of soldiers that died while serving in the First World War, by country. The average error found that respondents from France were the most accurate; while those from Canada and USA were the least accurate. All respondents grossly under-estimated French and German losses. Lastly, only respondents in the UK had a reasonably clear understanding of their own losses; all other respondents under-estimated the UK’s losses by at least a quarter million, with the Americans being the furthest off.
In last week’s poll question, we revealed that as of April 2015, 5% of Canadians were, or knew someone, planning to travel to France in 2017 for the centennial observance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This week we want to take a poll and see how the numbers compare. Do you, or someone you know, plan to travel to France this year for the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge?
Next Sunday, we’ll be posting about the Vimy Pilgrimage of 1936, when over 6,200 Canadians travelled back to Europe for the unveiling of the Vimy Memorial, in what was the largest mass pilgrimage of Canadians to ever return to the battlefields of Europe. In 2017, perhaps for the first time, the original Vimy Pilgrimage may finally be outdone. In fact, an April 2015 poll found that 5% of Canadians say that they or a member of their family is planning to travel to France in 2017 for the centennial observances of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the unveiling of the new Vimy Education Centre.
The commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge has featured prominently in Canada’s 150th year. Just yesterday we asked you to share where you will be on April 9th, 2017. When the Vimy Foundation asked poll respondents in 2015 about the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge occurring during Canada 150, 74% of Canadians agreed that it should be one of the most important celebrations for the nation that year. In the same poll, 75% of respondents agreed that “all Canadians should participate in a local activity to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday in 2017”.
Over the last few weeks we have been following the construction of the Vimy Memorial with our Sunday “Remembering Vimy” posts. On the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, communities across Canada will gather at their local cenotaph to commemorate. However, an April 2015 poll by the Vimy Foundation revealed that the state of Canada’s cenotaphs might not befit the honour that is due to Canada’s fallen heroes. Four in ten (40%) Canadians ‘agree’ (8% strongly/32% somewhat) that ‘the war cenotaph/memorial in my community is in need of repair and/or restoration’.
Reflecting on last week’s poll, (which revealed that 52% of Canadians felt Canada was doing enough to commemorate the centennial anniversaries of the First World War, while only 25% of Canadians say they’ve attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months), it is interesting to note that Canadians trail a number of fellow combatant nations in saying that they remember learning about the First World War in school. Two thirds (66%) of Canadians and those in Great Britain (64%) remember learning about the First World War in school, behind those in Germany (70%), the USA (72%), France (78%) and Belgium (80%).
As the world commemorates important centenaries of the First World War, just over one half (52%) of Canadians agree that Canada is doing enough to mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, while the other half (48%) of Canadians disagree in a November 2016 poll. Despite 52% agreeing Canada is doing enough to commemorate, only one quarter (25%) of Canadians say they’ve attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months.
November 2016 – Canadians Lead in Attending War Remembrance Ceremonies
As noted in our poll last week, centennial anniversary commemorations of important First World War milestones have been ongoing across the world since 2014, and will continue late into 2018. In light of these numerous events taking place, a November 2016 poll found that one quarter (25%) of Canadians say they’ve attended a war remembrance ceremony in the past 12 months, while fewer residents of Great Britain (18%), the USA (16%), Belgium (14%), France (11%) and Germany (4%) say the same.
From 2014 to 2018, Canada and those around the world are marking the 100th anniversary of many important milestones from the First World War. But an April 2015 poll found most Canadians are not entirely aware of these important anniversaries. Four in ten (44%) ‘agree’ that they are ‘aware of upcoming centennial anniversaries of important moments of the First World War, such as poet John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields, the Battle of Ypres, the Battle of Vimy Ridge, etc’. However, a majority (56%) ‘disagrees’ that they are aware of these important milestones.