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Federal government spending more than $11M to preserve Canadian war memorials overseas

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is pictured on Sept. 15, 2017. (Natalie Lombard/CTV Atlantic) The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is pictured on Sept. 15, 2017. (Natalie Lombard/CTV Atlantic)
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The federal government says it is spending more than $11 million to protect several Canadian war memorials overseas.

Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay made the announcement at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in Givenchy-en-Gohelle, France, on Wednesday.

The $11.7-million investment is spread over six years, at an average of almost $300,000 annually.

The funds will be used to maintain, modernize and enhance visitors' experiences at 15 memorial sites and monuments, which are almost 100 years old with most buildings between 50 to 70 years old.

"Canada's 15 memorial sites represent connections to family members and friends and a reminder of all those who made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for peace,” said MacAulay.

“It is vital that we care for these sites to help ensure the footprints our soldiers, aviators and sailors left behind here in Europe never fade away.”

The federal government says most of the funding will be spent on Canada's only two overseas national historic sites -- The Canadian National Vimy Memorial and the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial, both in France.

The two sites welcome almost 900,000 visitors every year.

The Beaumont-Hamel memorial honours Newfoundlanders who served during the First World War, more than 800 of which died.

The Vimy memorial monument includes the names of the more than 11,000 Canadians who lost their lives in France in the war.

The funding is said to help 13 other memorials develop and add new interpretative panels to highlight soldiers’ stories.

More inclusive stories about Indigenous, racialized, women and 2SLGBTQI+ veterans are also said to be included.

The government says the improvements are needed ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics and the 110th anniversary of the Battles of Vimy Ridge and Beaumont-Hamel. 

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