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Island Peace Committee marks 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge

Charlottetown-based Council of Canadians vice-chairperson Leo Broderick is a member of the Island Peace Committee.

The Guardian reports, “A number of Islanders paid honour to the lives lost during the Battle of Vimy Ridge, while also speaking out against acts of war. The Island Peace Committee held a commemoration event Sunday night at Trinity United Church in Charlottetown. Broderick said the event was to commemorate the lives lost during the battle of Vimy Ridge while also celebrating the resistance to war.”

Broderick says, “We believe the answer to the world’s difficulties and problems is not war but peaceful negotiations and diplomacy.”

The article adds, “The evening had P.E.I.’s poet laureate Deirdre Kessler and fellow poet Lobie Daughton as guest speakers. The two each read one of their own poems, as well as works by others including excerpts from Canadian playwright David Fennario’s works ‘Motherhouse’ and ‘Bolsheviki’. Both plays are largely based on first-hand material, such as eyewitness accounts of soldiers, from the First World War.”

To listen to a 9-minute CBC Radio interview with Broderick and Kessler about this gathering, please click here.

The Battle of Vimy Ridge took place on April 9-12, 1917.

3,598 Canadian soldiers were killed and 7,004 were wounded in that battle. An estimated 20,000 German soldiers were killed or wounded.

World War I began on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918. The numbers are staggering but alone cannot tell the full story – 9.9 million soldiers were killed and 21.2 million were wounded. 650,000 Canadians fought in World War I, 68,000 of them were killed and 170,000 were wounded.

In total, there were 38 million military and civilian casualties.

Historian Neil Faulkner has written, “War was no longer the business of small professional armies campaigning in distant places. It had become a monstrous mechanism of destruction that engulfed entire societies. Millions were conscripted. Millions worked in munitions factories or laboured on the land to feed the war machine. Millions starved as consumption collapsed.”

This immense loss of life for what became widely regarded as futile reasons led to a massive peace movement both during and following the war.