In a distant French commune, ceremony of sending two Indian soldiers from the First World War

At the start of the Great War in 1914, the two Garhwali units bearing the regimental title, 39 Garhwal Rifles, were part of the Garhwal Brigade under the Meerut Division. It was one of the first Indian formations, along with the Lahore division, which sailed to France to stem the impending German attack in the fall of 1914. Almost immediately they were in action in the First Battle of Ypres . Here, the Garhwal Brigade participated in the first trench raid of the war on November 9-10, 1914. On the night of November 23, 1914, four months after the start of World War I, Naik Darwan Singh Negi of the 1st Battalion, 39th Garhwal Rifles, twice wounded in the head and once in the arm, pushed to retake the trenches lost to the Germans at Festubert, France. He received the VC. His quote read:

For great bravery on the night of November 23-24, near Festubert, France, when the regiment was busy retaking and clearing the enemy from our trenches, and, although wounded in two places in the head, and also in the arm, being one of the first to bypass each successive crossing, facing heavy fire from bombs and guns within range.

On December 5, 1914, Naik Darwan Singh was driven from the battlefield to receive the British Empire’s highest military honor for bravery, from King George V, becoming the first Indian soldier to receive the VC from the hands of the king emperor in the field itself. The particular significance of the Battle of Festubert was that it was a defensive operation in which the recapture of the lost trenches was seen as a factor contributing to the projection of the resilience and reputation of the Indian Expeditionary Force. Naik Darwan Sigh’s heroic action in which he was also injured was therefore a great display of the Indians’ fighting prowess, which helped cement their reputation.

The saga of bravery of the Garhwal brigades continued until 1915. In a second case of extreme bravery, the rifleman Gabar Singh of the 2nd Rifle Battalion of Garhwal fought on the night of March 10, 1915 a series of battles in the bayonet in the stretched trenches of Neuve. Chapel. He was posthumously awarded the VC. An excerpt from his quote read:

During an attack on the German position, Rifleman Gabar Singh Negi was part of a bayonet group with bombs that entered their main trench and was the first man to bypass each crossing, pushing the enemy back until that he was finally forced to surrender. He was killed during this engagement.

Laventie, the small town eight kilometers north of Neuve-Chapelle, is where the remains of the two brave hearts were recently found. However, not much can be said whether these were specifically men of the 1st Battalion or the 2nd Battalion. The Indian Army Headquarters for its part sent a team composed of a commander and a major subedar as well as two pipers from the Pipes and Drums Band, all from the GRRC.

The presence of Colonel Nitin Negi, currently serving officer of the Garhwal Rifles, added novelty to the solemn occasion of the burial ceremony at Laventie military cemetery. He is the son of Colonel Balbir Negi (retired) also of the Garhwal Rifles. Colonel Balbir Negi is the third son of Naik (later Subedar) Darwan Singh Negi, VC, the iconic hero of the Battle of Festubert. Colonel Nitin Negi surprised many in India when they saw his photo during the ceremony adorning his grandfather’s medals on the right of his chest. This is a long forgotten but permitted practice for beneficiaries of the ‘Passing it On’ tradition of people in uniform displaying their parenting campaign medals on the right while displaying theirs on the left of the chest (see Photo). The Purple Ribbon VC is one of the rarest medals displayed on a chest.


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Franco-Ontarian flag hoisted at Town Hall in honor of the French community

Hundreds of young French students flooded the town hall square on Thursday to attend the raising ceremony of a flag that could end up floating forever.

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Hundreds of young French students flooded the town hall square on Thursday to attend the raising ceremony of a flag that could end up floating forever.

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About 450 students from the French Catholic School Board were transported by bus to witness the hoisting of the Franco-Ontarian flag in honor of its 41st birthday.

Students and local staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Students are introduced during the event.  (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)
Students and local staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Students are introduced during the event. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star) Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Mayor Drew Dilkens spoke at the event and said he wanted the flag to be a permanent feature of the New Town Hall.

“I am going to present a notice of motion and ask the municipal council to install a permanent Franco-Ontarian flag when the new town hall opens in 2018, in recognition of the fact that this whole neighborhood was built by French settlers and was really started by French settlers, ”Dilkens said. “I think it’s important to recognize that permanently.

Elizabeth Brito, of the Association canadienne-française de l’Ontario, said there are about 30,000 people in the French community in the Windsor area. This year’s census will give a clearer picture of the actual number, but she said it appears to be increasing.

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The flag should fly at city hall, she said, to represent this large population.

“It is important to hoist the Franco-Ontarian flag here in Windsor to reflect the French presence in Chatham-Kent and especially here in Windsor,” said Brito.

Students and staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as French citizens of the region celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Students and staff are presented during the event.  (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)
Students and staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as French citizens of the region celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Students and staff are presented during the event. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star) Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

She said the flag, created in 1975, was first hoisted in Sudbury. The flag is green and white to represent summer and winter, with a trillium and a lily on it.

The anniversary isn’t actually until September 25, Brito said, but organizers have organized the event a few days in advance for logistical reasons.

“It will be a few days of celebration,” Brito said.

Local students and staff with the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Lucrece Powo, a grade 6 student from Æ?  The EnvolŽe school in Windsor is shown during the event.  (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)
Local students and staff with the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Lucrece Powo, a grade 6 student from Æ? The EnvolŽe school in Windsor is shown during the event. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star) Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star

Dilkens said the Franco-Ontarian flag should be flown permanently over City Hall, after so many groups were only given the honor temporarily, due to the important role of the French community in the history of Windsor.

“We’re talking about building the community,” Dilkens said. “We are not talking about church flags or any other type of flag. We are talking about people who made a significant contribution to the community to found it.

“I think it’s appropriate to recognize that our nation understands that we are bilingual, that we have two official languages. It is fitting that the City of Windsor recognizes its settlers and founders.

Students and staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Isaac LeGood, a grade 9 student from the he EJ Lajeunesse High School in Windsor was ready for the event.  (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)
Students and staff from the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Isaac LeGood, a grade 9 student from the he EJ Lajeunesse High School in Windsor was ready for the event. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star) Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star
Students and local staff with the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens takes speaking at the event.  (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star)
Students and local staff with the French Catholic School Board as well as local French citizens celebrated Franco-Ontarian Flag Day at Windsor Town Hall on Thursday, September 22, 2016. Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens takes speaking at the event. (DAN JANISSE / The Windsor Star) Photo by Dan Janisse /Windsor Star


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Edmonton’s Francophone community is growing despite fears that the culture will be passed on – Edmonton

EDMONTON – Edmonton’s Francophone community has prospered in recent years, according to the French Quartered Business Association, but some fear it will not be sustainable.

Jean Johnson, executive director of the association, said there are more than 30,000 people in Edmonton whose mother tongue is French and between 80,000 and 85,000 who speak the language.

He said that historically, French-speaking citizens came to Edmonton and Alberta because of the economy.

“What is really done is culturally diverse presence of [the Francophones] so that today’s Francophone community reflects Alberta civil society in terms of cultural diversity, ”said Johnson.

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Johnson said La Cité francophone has helped create a hub for the community to come together for programs and events.

“I think that for other Edmontonians, this is an opportunity for people to come and discover a multi-ethnic Francophone community right here at La Cité francophone,” he said.

Ginette Boulianne can attest to this. Boulianne grew up speaking French in Saskatchewan. When she moved to Alberta in 2000, she said it was important to find a francophone community,

“I was delighted to see how vibrant and healthy the Francophone community in Edmonton was,” she said.

Boulianne said Francophone culture is such a priority that she comes from Sherwood Park to spend time at La Cité francophone, take her daughter to Francophone dance classes, or participate in events such as the Flying Canoe Festival.

“French culture is still part of who I am. That’s wonderful. It’s great that there are opportunities to do things in French and meet people who share the same culture, ”she said.

Johnson said it’s important for the French community to have a presence in the city because Canada is, technically, a bilingual country.

“Canada strengthens the values ​​of cultural diversity and linguistic duality. I think that we reflect these two values ​​as a community of the fact that we are French-speaking and of the fact that we have brought this enormous wealth of these various cultures coming from African cultures and from all over Europe, ”he said. .

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But Lisette Trottier, spokesperson for the Association canadienne-française de l’Alberta – Edmonton chapter, said there were concerns that the French-speaking culture in the city was not sustainable.

Trottier, who is also a French immersion teacher, said 70 percent of Francophones either lose their ability to speak French or have never learned their parents’ language.

She said integration into culture often comes down to places where you can use the French language or activities that involve French heritage or culture.

“Living in a minority situation is a bit going against the grain. It’s just easier to assimilate and do like everyone else. I have often had to justify why I choose to do things in French, ”she said.

Trottier said one way to compensate for assimilation is to create more spaces, like La Cité, for Francophone residents and to create events that are not exclusive to Francophones.

“We do not only invite the Francophone community to events, but the entire community so that they can get to know us. We are better understood and people who have this real interest can also be part of this community. “


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