French village decked out in Canadiana to mark Vimy Ridge centennial
Published Wednesday, April 5, 2017 10:38PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 6, 2017 4:43PM EDT
A small village in France has transformed into a little piece of Canada ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge to honour the soldiers who fought to liberate the community.
Canadian flags wave in the picturesque streets of Givenchy-en-Gohelle, a village near Vimy Ridge that was once occupied by German soldiers and later destroyed by bombings. Givenchy was later rebuilt in the wake of the war.
This year has been declared the year of Canada as the village marks the anniversary of the historic battle that many locals consider their liberation day.
Some villagers prepared for the centennial by taking English lessons and classes in Canadian history. One woman now offers a walking tour in English to show visitors remnants of the Great War, such as the site of an old German bunker in the woods.
“I think all the people of Givenchy want to say thank you, thank you very much,” Jossiane Cavignaux told CTV News.
Other local gestures are a bit more playful, like a special bottling of beer and champagne to commemorate the date.
Givenchy’s mayor said the special treatment is the least the community can do to pay respect to the troops who risked their lives.
“To come so far and defend France -- that is extraordinary,” said the village’s mayor. “We owe Canada a lot.”
The legacy of Vimy Ridge is never far from sight or mind in the village, according to a Canadian woman who settled down in Givenchy 17 years ago.
“Wherever you are in the village, whether you’re walking, going to church, going to the town hall, in your backyard, you can always see it … and so it’s an intrinsic part of people’s everyday lives,” said Valerie Bince, who moved to the village from Vancouver as a student and decided to settle down.
A ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle at Vimy Ridge will be held on Sunday. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend the event in France alongside Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, French President Francois Hollande and Princes Charles, William and Harry.
CTV National News will be broadcasting live from France on the morning of Sunday, April 9 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
With a report from CTV’s London Bureau Chief Paul Workman