Canada Invests $3.5M to Honor WWI Soldiers, Repatriate Unknown Soldier

Canada invests $3.5 million to renovate the National War Memorial in St. John's and repatriate an unknown World War I soldier's remains. The project honors the 12,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who served in World War I, including 1,700 who lost their lives.

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Canada Invests $3.5M to Honor WWI Soldiers, Repatriate Unknown Soldier

Canada Invests $3.5M to Honor WWI Soldiers, Repatriate Unknown Soldier

The Government of Canada is investing over $3.5 million to support the Newfoundland and Labrador National War Memorial Centennial project. The funding, spread over two years, will go towards renovating the National War Memorial in St. John's, creating a tomb for an unknown World War I soldier from Newfoundland, and holding repatriation ceremonies.

Why this matters: This initiative serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by soldiers during World War I, and the importance of honoring their memory. It also highlights Canada's commitment to preserving itshistory and recognizing the contributions of its service members, setting a precedent for future commemorative efforts.

A key part of the initiative involves repatriating the remains of an unknown Newfoundland soldier who fought and died in World War I. On May 25, 2024, the Government of France will formally transfer the soldier's remains to Canada in a public ceremony at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in northern France.

The project aims to honor the service and sacrifice of the more than 12,000 Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who served in various military branches during World War I. Tragically, approximately 1,700 of them lost their lives, and over 800 have no known grave. "The Government of Canada recognizes the tremendous contributions and sacrifices of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and all Canadians to the freedom of Europe," said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence. "We are proud to support this significant memorial initiative to help preserve the legacy of the Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who served in the war years, especially those who have no known final resting place."

During World War I, Newfoundland was a separate dominion of the British Empire and not yet part of Canada. TheRoyal Newfoundland Regimentplayed a crucial role in the conflict. "The Royal Newfoundland Regiment fought tooth and nail for the future and the honour of their country,"said Seamus O'Regan Jr., Minister of Labour and Seniors and Member of Parliament for St. John's South–Mount Pearl. "One of those Newfoundlanders is now coming home."

The centennial of the National War Memorial in St. John's marks a significant milestone for Newfoundland and Labrador. Steve Crocker, Minister of Tourism, Culture, Arts and Recreation, described the refurbishment of the memorial and the reinterment of the unknown soldier as"a moving and poignant way to commemorate this milestone. "Gerald Budden, President of the Royal Canadian Legion NL Command, echoed the sentiment, stating,"At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We Will Remember Them."

The tomb of the unknown Newfoundland soldier will serve as a powerful symbol, representing all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians from various branches of service who have no known grave. This initiative ensures that their contributions and sacrifices will never be forgotten, as Canada pays tribute to its fallen heroes a century after their valiant efforts in World War I.