April 7, 2022
April 8th, 2022 – Vimy, France – The Vimy Foundation
The Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, opened in 2018 to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, is a reflective space for visitors to Vimy. It was built on formerly private farmland, purchased by the Vimy Foundation in 2016, and designed by notable Canadian landscape architect Linda Dicaire. The park is home to 100 “Vimy Oaks”, the descendants of acorns that were brought back from France by a Canadian soldier at the end of the war and planted in Scarborough, Ontario.
Donated by the George and Helen Vari Foundation, the Vari Gate is an important architectural element of the Centennial Park. It also highlights the history of the Vari Family, who distinguished itself by major contributions to several causes, including veterans and education. Helen Vari is also a long-time partner to the Vimy Foundation, which she has supported for many years, notably as honourary co-chair of the 2017 centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge.
As a Grand officer of the Ordre national de la Légion d’Honneur, she also tirelessly advocated for the Canada-France friendship. This commitment to a Canadian-owned commemorative park in France follows along the same line.
George W. Vari, born in Hungary, arrived in Canada in 1957. “We came to Canada with nothing, Canada gave us everything” he once said. Mr. Vari and his wife, Helen, gave significantly to Canada.
“When you step for the first time on Vimy soil, you are filled with emotion. You see all the beauty and sadness that permeate this place. And you know you are among friends. People who today reside in the area still remember what happened at Vimy and are thankful of what Canadians achieved there. You can imagine how proud we are to contribute to this very important historical cause.”
- Helen Vari, Grand officier de la Légion d’honneur, President of the George and Helen Vari Foundation.
“The Vimy Foundation is honoured today to host Madame Helen Vari at the official opening of the Vari Gate of the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park. The George and Helen Vari Foundation has, for years, been a very generous partner of the Vimy Foundation, including helping us build the Vimy Visitor Education Centre along with the Government of Canada. Today, the generosity of the 'Empress of Vimy' extends to the Vimy Foundation Centennial Park, for which the Vari Gate will play a central role.”
- Christopher Sweeney, CEO, ZSA Recruitment, chair, The Vimy Foundation.