Toronto, ON – April 8 – The year 2017 marks two key milestones for Canada: the 150th anniversary of confederation, and the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. According to a new Ipsos poll conducted for the Vimy Foundation, most (83%) agree “the 100th anniversary of Vimy, falling as it does in 2017, the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada, should be one of the most important celebrations for Canada that year”. Agreement is up 9 points since last year.
However, less encouraging was that when presented with a photo of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France, just one in ten (12%) Canadians correctly identified it. A large majority – Three quarters (74%) – of Canadians didn’t know and didn’t venture a guess.
At one-year countdown to the Vimy Centennial, the poll found that two in three (65%) Canadians agree that one day they would “like to visit the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France”, with younger adults aged 18 to 34 (68%) as the most inclined to agree.
In fact, one in twenty (5%) Canadians say that they or someone in their family is planning to travel to France in 2017 for the centennial observances of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the unveiling of the new Vimy Education Centre.
In 2012, the new $20 banknote was unveiled, which includes the image of the Vimy Monument. A majority (52%) supports changing the name of $20 to a “Vimy” help commemorate the battle’s centennial in 2017, up 1 point since last year. Fewer than half (48%) of Canadians disagree (18% strongly/30% somewhat) with this position, down 1 point.
Among a list of five possibilities, three in ten (28%) correctly identified that 2017 marks the centenary (100th anniversary) of the Battle of Vimy Ridge while only two in ten (16%) believe that 2017 marks the end of the First World War, while one in ten (10%) think it’s the centenary of Canada’s confederation. Others say it’s the 100th anniversary of the Normandy Landings (4%) or the Battle of Dieppe (3%), both of which were pivotal moments of the Second World War.
The results suggest that Canadians’ knowledge of key events in its history appears to be waning, despite the belief among most (87% agree – 50% strongly/37% somewhat) that it’s just as relevant for students today to learn about the First World War in school as it was for their generation.
Historians and political leaders have argued that Canada became a nation at Vimy Ridge. The Canadian victory at Vimy Ridge, the first time all four divisions of the Canadian Corps worked together as one formation, also gave Canadians a reputation for breaking through the centre of German defence. Given the significance of this moment in Canadian history, six in ten (61%) agree that “Canada became a nation at Vimy Ridge”, while four in ten (39%) disagree .
- A strong majority (66%) of Canadians agree (27% strongly/40% somewhat) that “Canada does not do enough to honour its veterans”, up 3 points since 2012,
- Those older than 55 are most likely (77%) to believe that Canada does not do enough, followed by those who are 35 to 54 (63%) or 18-34 (57%).
- Canadians are more split on whether other countries do more than Canada to honour their veterans: 56% agree that other countries do more to honour their veterans than Canada does, up 1 point.
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