Canadian Autonomy

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The Fight for Freedom

Neham Marwah
CHC2D1 Ms. Ballantyne
January 15 2011

Some may ask themselves, to what extent has the 20th century contributed to Canada’s autonomy? Canadian autonomy came as a result of the events that occurred within the 20th century. Without these vital events they would have never gained full independence from Britain to become their own nation. The main events that influenced their autonomy are their brave and fearless fighting in WWI, their mid-war self-success and great contributions in WWII and the great assistance Canada served nations post war. Canada showed bravery and fearlessness to new challenges in the First World War that proved that Canadians were able to walk on their own. Canada was new to the war life, and although they only participated because of their attachment to Britain they participated with full force. Citizens all around Canada joined to serve in WWI, ready to fight for their nation. The first battle Canadian soldiers took part in was Ypres in 1915 and they joined the French-Algerian troops in this battle. (Newman, 105) The position of the Canadian troops was surrounded by German trenches, which made them an easier target. (Newman, 105) Little did the Canadians know that the Germans were about to release a treacherous weapon for the first time in history—chlorine gas. (Newman, 105) The Canadians were taken by surprise, but French officials had been warned prior to the attack, but they failed to instruct the Canadians about this new weapon or any method of defending themselves against it. (Newman, 106) The French-Algerians saw the gas and ran leaving an open space in their formation for Germans to penetrate through. (Newman, 106) Canadians were hit with the chlorine gas, but they held their position unlike their allies. (Newman, 106) They waited three days under harsh attack, until British reinforcements came to relieve them. (Newman, 106) Canadians came out of the battle with injuries and lost members but they were recognized as strong and courageous fighters. (Newman, 106) Ypres may have been the first battle Canadians fought in, but The Battle of Vimy Ridge was the one that really changed the outlook on Canadians. German soldiers were confident that no one would take over Vimy Ridge, and they had an advantage as they were on a hill that had a great view of the whole field, this made hiding difficult for the Canadian soldiers. (Newman, 117) Canadians corps fought alone in this battle, under the command of British general Julian Byng. (Newman, 119) Under Byng’s command was Canadian born Major-General Arthur Currie was the commander of the First Canadian Division; they decided to use a technique called “the creeping barrage.” (Newman, 119) The plan devised by Currie was very well thought out and the hard work and dedication of the Canadian soldiers helped them win the battle. (Newman, 119) Although Canadians number had been cut by 3500, (Newman, 119) by the end of the battle they held their heads high. This attack showed everyone that Canadians were capable of coming up with a successful battle plan and able to carry out their instructions and achieve the task at hand. Arthur Currie became the commander of the Canadian corps, (Newman, 119) eliminating the involvement of British officers in the Canadian army. It was a huge step for Canadians to finally have something that was completely theirs; they were no longer being pushed around and told what to do by British officers. Throughout the war, August 8 through to November 11 became known as “Canada’s 100 Day” because of their success within the time period. As WWI was coming to a close, Lloyd George invited Robert Borden to the Paris Peace Conference to represent Britain. (Newman, 128) Borden rejected his offer and insisted that after all of Canada’s sacrifice in the war, they should earn their own seat, as an independent country. (Newman, 128) Canada suffered many casualties in the war that led to their first step to...
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