Thank you, General Rohmer.
General Rohmer is very humble obviously.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee. As Mr. Galipeau said, my name is Sue Foster.
I am the Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy, Communications and Commemoration at Veterans Affairs Canada.
Yesterday marked my five-month anniversary at Veterans Affairs Canada, so I'm a relatively new member to the department, and have been enjoying lots of fun and festivity over the last several months there. We've been very busy.
This is my first time appearing before the committee. I am pleased to be here to tell you about the upcoming commemorative activities of Veterans Affairs Canada.
Joining me at the table, as you know, is Major-General Richard Rohmer. General Rohmer serves as the minister's special adviser. He's also the senior Canadian veteran of the battle of the liberation of the Netherlands. I am also joined by John Desrosiers, our director of commemoration operations.
Our presentation today is separated into three main parts. First, we will provide some background, to explain the heightened period of commemoration with regard to World War I and World War II, followed by an overview of the Government of Canada's plans to mark the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign.
Today General Rohmer and I will focus on two of these initiatives. The first is the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign, an important battle in the history of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. Then we'll talk about the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands.
We'll begin with slide 4. I believe you have a deck in front of you with some background information. The 100th and 75th anniversaries of World War I and World War II from 2014 to 2020 represent a unique opportunity for Canadians to reflect on our country's long and proud military history. Throughout this period, Veterans Affairs Canada, in collaboration with Canadian Heritage and many other partners in Canada and abroad, will carry out a variety of commemorative activities marking the tremendous sacrifices and accomplishments of all of those who served.
On behalf of the Government of Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada is responsible for the maintenance of 14 memorials in France, Belgium and England. Those memorials commemorate Canadians and Newfoundlanders, men and women, who served during the First World War and the Second World War.
We are expecting a higher number of Canadian visitors to those memorials between 2014 and 2020. Veterans Affairs Canada will ensure that the visitors' experiences continue to be rich and meaningful, especially through the services provided by the student guides at the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial and the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France.
The heightened period of remembrance will provide all Canadians with the extraordinary opportunity to celebrate their proud heritage, but most importantly to honour those who served and continue to serve our country to uphold the values of peace, freedom, and democracy.
As shown on slide 5, the next milestone anniversary the department will be marking is, as I mentioned, the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli campaign. Also known as the Dardanelles campaign, the Battle of Gallipoli, or the Battle of Çanakkale—I think they put these words in here to test me. This was a campaign of the First World War that took place on the Gallipoli peninsula in Turkey between April 25, 1915 and January 9, 1916.
The 10-month campaign was the first major battle undertaken in the war by Australia and New Zealand and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. The date of landing, April 25, known as Anzac Day, remains the most significant commemoration of military casualties in those two countries.
When Britain entered the First World War on August 4, 1914, Newfoundland, which was then a British dominion, was suddenly at war too. Gallipoli was the first of many battles that would earn the Newfoundland Regiment an impressive reputation during the First World War, earning them the title “Royal”. Of 47 members of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment who are known to have died during the Gallipoli campaign, 24 are buried on the peninsula. In comparison with Australia's and New Zealand's, Canada's contribution to Gallipoli was less significant, its main effort being to treat the wounded in military hospitals situated around the eastern Mediterranean. Each year, ceremonies are held on the Gallipoli peninsula on April 24 and 25. These ceremonies are normally attended by a small contingent from the Canadian embassy in Ankara.
I will turn to slide 6. As 2015 marks the centennial of the Gallipoli campaign, there is great interest by Australia and New Zealand in marking this milestone anniversary. As such, the Turkish government has capped attendance at 10,500, which is driven by the capacity at the site. Canada has been allotted 10 spots, with the understanding that Canada will coordinate Newfoundland and Labrador's participation within this allotment.
To pay respects to the Newfoundlanders who lost their lives, Veterans Affairs Canada is working with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment to identify a regimental delegation. We anticipate the participation of the honorary colonel, Lieutenant Governor Frank Fagan, to attend the Royal Newfoundland contingent. The remaining spots will be filled with commissioned and non-commissioned officers. We anticipate that five representatives from the Royal Newfoundland Regiment will join the delegation.
Slide 7 shows an overview of the schedule, which consists of the regiment's departing Newfoundland on April 21; a peace summit for heads of delegation in Istanbul on April 23; ceremonies at the Turkish, French, and British monuments in Çanakkale on April 24; and the signature event, a dawn service at Anzac Cove on the morning of April 25, followed by memorial services by the Turkish and New Zealanders. The Canadian delegation will follow a private program on April 26, with visits to Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries to conduct wreath layings to pay tribute to the fallen Newfoundlanders. The delegation returns to Canada on April 28.
Planning is also in full swing at Veterans Affairs Canada for the 70th anniversary of the liberation of The Netherlands.
Before I go into specific detail about the Government of Canada's activities for this anniversary, I would like to invite the minister's special adviser, Major-General Richard Rohmer, who is also the senior Canadian veteran of the liberation of The Netherlands, to provide background on the battle.
We are on slide 8 now.