We live in a country strong and free thanks to those who fought selflessly to achieve peace. Today, the Government of Canada marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy with signature ceremonies in Normandy, France, and in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Beginning on D-Day, June 6, 1944, with the Allied landings on five beaches in Normandy, the Normandy Campaign stretched for 11 weeks into the hot and dusty French summer. More than 5,000 Canadian soldiers died-and more than 13,000 were wounded-during this campaign, which helped bring an end to the Second World War.
In France, Veterans Affairs Canada held a ceremony at Juno Beach in Courseulles-sur-Mer, to commemorate all those who fought on D-Day and in the Battle of Normandy, putting their lives on the line in the defence of peace and freedom. The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, Monsieur Édouard Philippe, Prime Minister of the French Republic, and the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence attended the ceremony. The moving ceremony concluded with a wreath-laying on Juno beach. The Government of Canada delegation, comprised of Veterans of D-Day, the Battle of Normandy and the Second World War, representatives of Indigenous and Veterans groups, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Canadian youth, parliamentarians and led by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, were also guests of honour at the ceremony.
In Halifax, a ceremony was held at the Willow Park Armoury. Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada, the Honourable Arthur J. LeBlanc, ONS, QC, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and Andy Filmore, Member of Parliament for Halifax, on behalf of the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence attended, alongside Veterans of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, Canadian Armed Forces representatives and parliamentarians to pay homage to the Canadian service members who helped bring the Second World War to an end.
Throughout this spring and early summer, VIA Rail Canada trains have carried combat boots across Canada towards Halifax, as symbols of the thousands of Canadians who undertook similar journeys during the Second World War. Eventually, many of these Canadians sailed from Halifax to join our Allies in the liberation of Europe. In Halifax, these combat boots were displayed during the ceremony in a somber reminder of the vast sacrifices that were required to obtain the peace we cherish today. At Juno Beach, 359 Canadian and French youth and cadets walked along the beach to lay down helmets, flowers and boots, representing the 359 Canadian soldiers who lost their lives 75 years ago today.
At the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, youth and Canadians also laid wreaths during a commemorative ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary.
The continuing dedication to Remembrance, by all these Canadians-the Faces of Freedom- ensures the story and legacy of those who gave so much, lives on.
As well as the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, 2019 marks the 5th anniversary of the end of Canada’s Mission in Afghanistan, and the 75th anniversaries of the Battle of the Scheldt and the Italian Campaign during the Second World War.
Join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #CanadaRemembers and #DDay75, or visit veterans.gc.ca/d-day75
“For the thousands of Canadians who landed on Juno Beach 75 years ago, it was a day that they could never forget. Neither can we. The living memory of the Second World War will soon pass. We share a sacred responsibility to keep veterans’ stories alive, to recognize the cost of war, and honour their immeasurable sacrifices.”
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
“By commemorating the 75th anniversary of the landings at Juno Beach, we honour the heroic soldiers who liberated France and Europe. France owes them a debt that will never be forgotten. Throughout their long, shared history, Canada and France have built strong ties in Normandy. I am honoured to pay this tribute alongside Justin Trudeau, to show that friendship and respect between nations are the guarantors of peace for today and tomorrow .”
Monsieur Édouard Philippe, Prime Minister of the French Republic
“Today we honour and recognize the more than 90,000 Canadian soldiers who volunteered to serve our country during the Second World War and saw action in the Normandy Campaign. As we mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day combat boots have featured prominently, as symbols and reminders of the hundreds of thousands of Canadians who have traded in their civilian shoes for combat boots to serve in times of war, military conflict and peace. The sacrifices made by these brave Canadians must never be forgotten. Lest we forget.
The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence
Roughly 14,000 Canadian troops from the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 2nd Canadian Armoured Brigade would come ashore on June 6, 1944.
More than 450 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion jumped inland before dawn on June 6, 1944, and were the first Canadians to engage the enemy on D-Day.
More than one million Canadians served in uniform during the Second World War. Over 45,000 Canadians lost their lives and another 55,000 were wounded in the conflict.
The Normandy Campaign was officially brought to a close with the liberation of Paris on August 25, 1944, following a decisive Allied victory in the bitter fighting in the Falaise Pocket a few days earlier.