Canadians attend memorials for Vimy Ridge centennial country-wide

Canadian troops battle in France at Vimy Ridge in April 1917

Canadian troops battle in France at Vimy Ridge in April 1917

Trudeau was among the dignitaries to speak at the ceremony at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in northern France, where as many as 25,000 people came to honour the Canadians who died in the fighting. A woman turns on electronic candles during a vigil to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge in Ottawa, Ontario, on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

But he saved a special thanks for Canada, telling Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the hundreds of others assembled that the Canadians' actions at Vimy was a turning point for the city - and for all of France.

In an apparent reference to the French presidential election - the first round takes place in two weeks' time, with far-right leader Marine Le Pen expected to reach the runoff - Hollande said those who fought at Vimy "tell us that nationalism only leads to war and that fundamentalism only leads to destruction".

Vimy Ridge was an engagement during the Battle Of Arras itself, which lasted from 9 April to 16 May 1917 and claimed 18,000 Scottish lives - the highest concentration of Scots involved in any WW1 campaign.

"It's been a truly fantastic experience", she said in an interview from the April 9 ceremony.

"The victory at Vimy Ridge earned a young Canada a place on the global stage".

Canada lost 3,600 soldiers and had over 7,000 injured during the three-day battle. Canada's military achievements during the war raised our country's worldwide stature and helped earn Canada a signature of its own, separate from England, on the Treaty of Versailles that formally ended the war.

Nadine Grill, who works with the education group the Vimy Foundation, said she was touched by how many people took time to commemorate the day.

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A vast warren of tunnels dug by New Zealand forces was crucial to the victory at Vimy allowing the Canadians to take the German troops by surprise.

The battle marked the first time all four Canadian divisions fought together side-by-side during the war, advancing together into the sleet and bullets and bombs on April 9, 1917: Easter Monday.

Our victory at Vimy is regarded by many as the moment when Canada stood on its own; as the moment when Canada became a nation.

"One hundred years ago today this regiment was one of several in the Canadian Armed Forces that assaulted Vimy Ridge", said Lt. -Col. I think it's very important that we remember the sacrifices that members of the regiment made and the sacrifices they made for not only themselves and the people here in Thunder Bay, but for Canadian's and for the security of the free world. "Let's renew our commitment to remember their heroism in the face of suffering and fear".

The government of Canada is hosted the ceremony, which will speeches from officials and performances by famous Canadian artists, including singer Loreena McKennitt.

Earlier Sunday, Trudeau and French President Francois Hollande unveiled a separate "Poppy of Peace" monument in the town of Arras, a few kilometers from Vimy.

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