OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to follow this weekend’s commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge by visiting another famous Canadian battlefield: Juno Beach.
The extra stop is surprising, given that the two battles are from different wars, with Canadian soldiers having fought at Vimy during the First World War and at Juno on D-Day in the Second World War.
Thousands of people from across Canada are expected to descend on Vimy on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the battle, where all four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought together for the first time in history.
Nearly 3,600 Canadian soldiers were killed and another 7,000 were wounded over four days of fierce fighting in sleet and rain, as they captured the strategically important ridge from the Germans.
The battle has since taken on iconic status in Canadian history — some consider it the moment when Canada was born as a true nation.
Sunday’s ceremony is expected to be the largest since the towering Canadian National Vimy Monument was unveiled in 1936.
An estimated 12,000 students will be in attendance, while the official delegation will see Trudeau joined by Gov.-Gen. David Johnston, French President Francois Hollande and Princes Charles, William and Harry.
Trudeau is then expected to leave for Juno Beach on Monday, sources say, where Canadian troops stormed ashore during the Second World War invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
The Prime Minister’s Office would not confirm the plan to visit Juno, where 340 Canadians were killed and another 574 wounded.
While it’s unclear why Trudeau would visit Juno instead of another First World War battlefield, he did reference both two world wars in his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in February.
“Canada and the United States have been neighbours a long time, and Canadians and Americans have stood together, worked together at home and around the world,” Trudeau said at the time.
“We’ve fought and died together in battlefields in World War I and World War II, in Korea, in Afghanistan.”