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Surrey parade marks 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge Battle

Organizers expect up to 1,000 people at Sunday’s event in Cloverdale.
Cadets gather in Cloverdale during last year’s parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. This year’s parade takes place Sunday (April 9) at 10 a.m.

This Sunday, a parade in Cloverdale will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

It’s the third year the event has been held in Surrey, though it had modest beginnings.

“We started with 100 kids but we expect close to 1,000 people between cadets and all the participants this year. It has grown tremendously,” said Cathy Bach, vice president of the Army Cadet League of Canada’s B.C. branch, who is also a Surrey resident.

(Photo from the 2016 parade, courtesy of Phil Edge.)

“This is a national initiative for the Army Cadet League of Canada,” she explained. “We’re making this our annual event to get behind. So the air guys have the Battle of Britain, the navy guys have the Battle of the Atlantic, and this is our annual event where we get out there, one more time, other than Remembrance Day with our kids and remembers.”

The Battle of Vimy Ridge began at 5:30 a.m. on Easter Monday, 1917. The four divisions of the Canadian Corps, fighting side-by-side for the first time, captured Vimy Ridge during the First World War.

The victory is said to be Canada’s “coming of age” as a nation but it came with a price. Nearly 3,600 people died.

Interestingly, this year’s Cloverdale parade lands on April 9, the same day of the battle’s commencement 100 years ago.

“The ultimate goal is really remembrance and to teach the new generation not to forget,” said Bach of the Cloverdale Vimy Ridge parade. “It’s the same message as Remembrance Day, remembering all the points in history that allow us our freedoms of today.

“It’s really as simple as that,” she continued. “We hope this continues for another 100 years.”

The event will start at 10 a.m. on Sunday, April 9 at the Cloverdale cenotaph outside Surrey Museum, 17710 56A Ave.

From there, the parade will march to the Cloverdale legion.

This year, Bach said, the RCMP pipe band is coming, as well as people from corrections.

“Because it’s the 100th anniversary, we got a lot more interest from the groups that normally participate in Remembrance Day,” she said.

The City of Surrey required organizers to pay for traffic control this year.

“At the opening, we thought it was going to be sidelined,” revealed Bach. As a non-profit, the organization didn’t have the necessary funds, she explained.

“But we talked to the city and they have given us a grant which more or less covers off those expenses,” Bach added. “In year’s past because it was so much smaller, I don’t whether we were under the radar or what, it never came up.”

Surrey city council approved the $2,000 grant Monday night.

Click here to visit the parade's Facebook page.

The Army Cadet League of Canada is a non-profit organization that supports the Royal Canadian Army Cadets (RCAC).

RCAC programs across the country have been commemorating the Battle of Vimy Ridge since 2011, one year after Canada’s last First World War veteran died.

RCAC is a federally sponsored program for children 12 to 18 to help develop “leadership, good citizenship and physical fitness while stimulating interest in the history and actives of the Canadian Army.”