On June 6, 1944, approximately 14,000 Canadian soldiers bravely stormed the beaches of Normandy, demonstrating the exceptional military skills of Canadians.
Canada’s 3rd Infantry Division and 2nd Armoured Brigade were responsible for landing on Juno Beach. They then played a pivotal role in seizing a vital foothold, all while under intensive fire from the Germans.
Now, 78 years after these heroic soldiers bravely served and sacrificed, Juno Beach is in danger of losing its sacred grounds that preserve and honor the memory of these soldiers to developers looking to build condos.
“It’s hallowed ground, it’s sacred ground, and there’s no reason at all to be discussing anything but the fact that there should be no condos there,” Cindy Clegg, a spokesperson for the Save Juno Beach Campaign, told CTV News in March when the issue first arose.
A group of Canadians, under the name of the Save Juno Beach Campaign, are now banding together to stop the proposed development of the seaside condominiums.
A Questionable Land Deal
According to the save Juno Beach Campaign, a questionable municipal land deal has turned over a large portion of Juno Beach to developers who will be building 70 seaside condos.
The campaign’s website states, “Pleas from local opposition, attempts to negotiate, and over two years of litigation- which have drained the coffers of the Juno Beach Centre- have fallen on deaf ears and left no real path towards resolution.”
The Canadians part of the campaign feel strongly that “Lest We Forget” should be more than words.
Government of Canada’s response
In April, Minister of Veteran’s Affairs Canada (VAC), Lawrence MacAulay, visited Juno Beach Centre to understand the impact the condos would have on the sacred grounds. While there, he also met with members of the Juno Beach Centre Association, the Mayor of Courseulles-sur-Mer, Les amis du Centre Juno Beach, and officials representing Canada in France.
“During our discussions, it was clear that we share the goal of finding a solution to the condominium development situation in a way that will commemorate our shared history moving forward,” stated the Minister in an email response.
He also met with Minister Delegate to the Minister for the Armed Forces in charge of Remembrance and Veterans in the French Government.
“The Minister and I agreed on the importance for Canada and France to honour the sacrifice of Canadian soldiers who fell at Juno Beach in 1944 to return freedom and democracy to Europe. She and I resolved to work together to seek a favourable outcome to resolve the neighbouring dispute that could negatively impact the operations of the Juno Beach Centre and to protect this historic site,” MacAulay continued.
Elected Leaders Discuss
Additionally, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and discussed the significance of Juno Beach to the people of both nations.
MacAulay has pledged to continue to work with Juno Beach Centre and the Canadian Embassy in Paris to encourage the French government to assist in this situation.
“As the most important monument and museum outside of Canada dedicated to Canadians who served during the Second World War, the Juno Beach Centre is a beacon proudly highlighting their sacrifices and achievements, and our Government will act to ensure that the integrity and solemnity of the Juno Beach landing site are respected for generations to come.”
According to the group, over 50,000 letters have been sent to Canadian and French officials.
To learn more or send a letter to the prime minister, click here.