Memories – Testimony

| March 31, 2020

Today, we share with you a text by Nathalie Worthington, Director of the Juno Beach Centre. These memories illustrate the sources and motivations of her commitment to the values of the Centre, for more than 17 years.

💬 “When I was a little girl in Courseulles and I listened to my mother telling me stories about her childhood, they were always stories about suffering, deprivation, survival and liberation, through pain.
One day, I asked her: “But why do you blame the Germans more than you do the Allies? It was the Allies who destroyed your house, killed your classmate, put your family on the roads, exposed to all sorts of dangers.” The answer was clear and categorical: “Because we lived in an occupied country and these men, our Allies, came to liberate us, risking their own lives. To understand this, you must have lived through it.”
Many years later, after becoming director of the Juno Beach Centre, the Canadian museum on the landing beaches, I met with Ghislain Simard, a veteran of the Régiment de La Chaudière. His granddaughter, a guide at the museum, fascinated by her grandfather’s story, had convinced him to come back to Normandy, for the first time since 1944. He was here, in all of his splendour, surrounded by French civilians who were witnesses from the war, and I could not help but noticing one thing. These individuals were talking and discussing as if they had known each other forever and had only left each others’ sight yesterday.
And I hear Mr. Simard say: “I spent my whole life trying to forget. As I come back here, I realize that we must absolutely not forget.”

Trying to understand, in order to make others understand. Continue remembering, as a sign of respect, for gratitude, and for the future. Put the man, the human, back at the centre of a history of life and of blood, a story that touched families from each side of the Atlantic ocean. That is the daily life at the Juno Beach Centre, more often than not the source of emotion, discovery and surprise. Whether we are Canadian, Québécois, French or Norman, British or citizens of the world, the Juno Beach Centre is a Must, but also has lots more to learn and to offer.”

Remembering Madeleine and Mr Ghislain Simard, and all the ones they represent

Dispatches from Juno shares all the news, events, and stories from the Juno Beach Centre in France and Canada. Interested in contributing a story to the blog? Email the editor at

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