The Juno Beach Centre has been hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic as it shut down France for several periods in the past year. Today the federal government announced a $500,000 cash rescue to keep the museum open and to help it get through the next couple of years.
The Juno Beach Centre is Canada’s only Second World War museum and educational centre in Europe. It plays a vital role in commemorating those who served during the Second World War. The museum was designed by Burlington Architect Brian Chamberlain.
Built on 1.5 hectares of land, the JBC stands a monument to those Canadians who perished during the Normandy landings campaign. The JBC’s architecture draws from a range of different symbols important to Canada. In the shape of a pentagon, the five points of the building are important as they symbolize the five points of the maple leaf (a national Canadian symbol). The JBC was also shares a similar shape with the Order of Canada, a medal awarded to Canadian individuals in recognition for their achievement and service to this nation. The use of a five pointed shape also pays homage to the five Normandy beaches that were involved in the D-Day Landings of 1944; Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. Additionally, the JBC also mimics the shape of a pinwheel, with the five sloping points, represents a sense of movement.
Construction of the Juno Beach Centre began on 6 June 2002 and took just a year to complete. Chamberlain Architect Services worked with 41 different companies to complete the Juno Beach Centre, in which 33 were native to Normandy. On 6 June 2003 the Juno Beach Centre officially opened with a special ceremony attended by Canadian and French dignitaries including Canadian Prime Minister, Jean Chrétien.
COVID-19 has negatively impacted the number of visitors to the Juno Beach Centre in France. Without its visitor revenue, the organization is experiencing financial hardship.
In announcing the financial support, Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay said, “The role that Canadians played—at Juno Beach, through Normandy and across Europe during the Second World War—is a vitally important part of our history. I’ve seen the great work that the Juno Beach Centre does in passing on the stories of those who fought and died, and I’m glad that we’re able to provide them with the support they need to make it through this pandemic.”