A group dedicated to commemorating the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers during the invasion of Normandy in 1944 says that Toronto city hall ignored its efforts to raise funds for a tribute next month in France.
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The Juno Beach Centre, a World War II museum located in the Normandy region, has spent months reaching out to various local governments across Canada, asking them to donate money to help pay for individual sign-post markers for a ceremony that will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day on June 6.
A marker will be placed near the site of the invasion to represent each one of the 359 Canadians who died trying to retake mainland Europe from the occupying forces of Nazi Germany.
Fifty of those soldiers were from Toronto, and each marker costs about $500.
When the organization originally sent a letter addressed to Toronto Mayor Rob Ford more than two months ago, they never received a response. The president of the Juno Beach Centre then repeatedly made phone calls to city hall.
The group “phoned the mayor’s office every day for two weeks, until it was announced that he was taking his leave of absence,” said Jenna Misener, a spokesperson with the Juno Beach Centre.
“I get to say that Winnipeg has been wonderful, and Brantford, and Fort Qu’Appelle … But I can’t brag that the city where I live has actually stepped up to support us,” she told CBC News.
As a last resort, the organization began writing to Toronto city councillors to help spread the word, including Coun. James Pasternak.
“It’s unfortunate that it slipped through the cracks. But once it was brought to our attention, we moved on it quickly,” Pasternak said.
“I spoke to my colleagues to try and pull it off in time, but the deadline was too tight.”
The Juno Beach Centre centre says it has continued with its fund raising efforts, donating some of its own money and receiving private donations from concerned Canadians.
The markers paid for thus far will be displayed until Remembrance Day.
The City of Toronto will host its own D-Day tribute ceremony in Nathan Phillips Square on Friday June 6.