PARIS — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will stand alongside more than 60 world leaders today in Paris, turning the annual ceremony in the French capital into a global commemoration of the end of the First World War.
Among the world leaders in attendance will be U.S. President Donald Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who will stand with French President Emmanuel Macron during the hour-long ceremony.
The Nov. 11 ceremony to mark 100 years since the end of the First World War will see a speech by Macron, the rekindling of the eternal flame at the tomb of the unknown soldier under the iconic Arc de Triomphe, and a moment of silence.
Trudeau and other leaders will head to a peace summit later in the day that Macron hopes to make an annual event. Kareen Rispal, France’s ambassador to Canada, says Trudeau’s appearance at the ceremony is a reminder of Canada’s contributions during the First World War that aren’t always recognized.
Some 650,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders served in the First World War, and more than 66,000 of them lost their lives. About 172,000 more were injured.
Others served behind the front lines, working with locals to aid the war effort. “We as French, we as Europeans — I think we don’t value enough the effort made by the Canadians,” Rispal said.
On Saturday, Trudeau thanked Canadian soldiers past and present for their service when he visited the memorial at Vimy Ridge and walked among the tombstones in a cemetery, some of which had names, others marked with simply “a soldier of the great war.”
Veterans and those in the military today carry the legacy of those who fought a century ago in the trenches of the First World War, Trudeau said, honouring the memory of all service members who have paid the ultimate price.
“You stand for the values upon which Canada was built, values like democracy, equality, justice and liberty,” Trudeau said.
“You risked it all to help the most vulnerable and free the oppressed. You chose to live your life in service of others driven by profound sense of duty and for that, Canadians can never thank you enough.”