I am deeply disappointed that as we approach the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, Montreal would choose to rename Vimy Park after Jacques Parizeau.
I have no issue with dedicating a park or a building to M. Parizeau, who was after all Premier of Quebec. Whether you agree or disagree with his political views, he has earned the right to recognition and to his place in history. But there are seven other parks in Outremont alone, of which Vimy is only one.
But memorializing one historical figure should not come at the cost of forgetting or erasing another, especially a historic event as significant, painful, and as costly as the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
It was the first time that the Canadian Corps had fought together, and they achieved an objective that no other armies had been able to do: seize the ridge, at a terrible cost. There were four divisions, drawn from every part of the country, fighting together, not just English, French and Indigenous but Canadians of all ethnicities, fighting with incredible bravery, discipline and sacrifice. 3,598 dead and 7,004 wounded.
Those men, their families, and the world all paid a terrible price for that war.
On Remembrance Day, November 11, we solemnly promise the dead that “We will remember them.” We remember their sacrifice, and the horror they experienced, so that we will not repeat it. It was a sacrifice of all for all.
But such remembrance should not be for reserved for one day of the year. There have been wars since, and sacrifices since, in which soldiers from Newfoundland and Labrador to British Columbia have worked together, fought together, died together, sometimes to end a war, sometimes to keep the peace.
The motto of Quebec is “Je me souviens”: I remember. Vimy is part of the history of Montreal and of Quebec as much as it is of Canada and the world. I would urge Montreal City Council to remember and recognize the sacrifice of Vimy – so that our brothers and sisters in France and Europe could be free.