Lest we forget: Thousands gather for Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver – CTV News

Lest we forget: Thousands gather for Remembrance Day ceremony in Vancouver - CTV News
With silence and salutes, Canadians mark Remembrance Day across the country
VANCOUVER – Thousands of people gathered at the Victory Square cenotaph in downtown Vancouver Monday to honour Canadas veterans and pay their respects to those who made ultimate sacrifice.

This years Remembrance Day ceremony commemorated the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 – an effort that would eventually lead to the liberation of Nazi-occupied France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Of course there's no rule against re-using a poppy year after year, but everyone knows how easily they fall off. After controversy about a commercially-made pin created specifically to secure poppies in place, the legion started distributing their own through some of its local branches. 

"On D-Day alone, 359 Canadians were killed with over 700 wounded among the total of 10,000 allied casualties," said Cameron Cathcart, the director of ceremonies.

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"When the battle of Normandy, as it is known, was finally over three months later, some 5,000 Canadians had been killed in action, 13,000 wounded, while fighting a very determined and tough enemy. It was a high price paid by our young men, all of whom were volunteers."

Mondays ceremony began with a march to the park, followed by the recital of O Canada and a performance by the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services band, the Pipes and Drums of the Seaforth Highlands of Canada and the Bach Youth Choir.

At 11 a.m., the bugle was sounded for the Last Post. The crowd observed two minutes of silence as the 15th Field Artillery Regiment provided a 21-gun salute and the Royal Canadian Air Force conducted a fly-past overhead.

There are some legion-approved options that diverge from the typical poppy. The organization's online Poppy Store sells three styles of handcrafted poppies made by Indigenous artists, as well as brochures from glass and clay. 

Among the veterans in attendance was Penelope Stirling, who said she appreciates the number of young folks who show up every year.

Barb Hetherington, director of Zero Waste Canada, is pleased the legion is thinking about how it can reduce waste. She said if they make a biodegradable poppy, they should make sure it's compostable in every community. 

"I think the young people are even better than the old ones. Theyre very good about turning out," she said.

But it didn't take long before the Whitehorse branch of the Royal Canadian Legion contacted Sealey and told her to stop selling them. That's despite $2 from every $10 poppy going to veteran's organizations. 

Stirling was one of the 1.1 million Canadians who served in the Second World War. She said shes always overcome with emotion on Remembrance Day, particularly during the moment of silence.

The current poppy is made of a 100 per cent polyester-nylon mix, which might be recyclable in some municipalities, but the legion is looking into more eco-friendly materials for its poppies and wreathes, according to Bond.

Remembrance Day has been observed in Victory Square since the cenotaph was unveiled in 1924, making the services the oldest ongoing annual ceremony in Vancouver.

Heather Sealey, owner of the Itsy-Bitsy Yarn Store in Whitehorse, said there's demand for more sustainable options. She recently started selling felted poppies, commission-free, on behalf of a local crafter.

There were several other Remembrance Day services throughout the city, however, including at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial in Stanley Park and at Mountain View Cemetery.

"We obviously want to support the work of the legion," she said, "But if we can help them come up with other strategies … that don't create waste, we would like to do that."

Members of the Canadian Forces, cadets and RCMP are in position as we await the start of the #RemembranceDay ceremony at Victory Square. @CTVVancouver pic.twitter.com/bBSVVNkbzh

She said that includes biodegradable materials, like paper with a wax coating. She said they need to ensure it would be strong enough to withstand wear and tear and the manufacturing process. 

Quite a sight… Crowds clapping as Canadian veterans arrive at Victory Square for #RemembranceDay ceremony. Its packed all around the cenotaph. pic.twitter.com/6Rkp75vXD1

The Royal Canadian Legion distributes more than 19 million poppies a year, which in turn raises millions of dollars in donations to support veterans and their families.

Canadian soldiers entering the Dutch city of Utrecht in the spring of 1945. Its the city where my fathers family spent much of WW2. Thank you to those who liberated them and many others. Without your sacrifice & service, I would not be here today. #CanadaRemembers pic.twitter.com/Mc5cWCvYvC

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Veterans stand ahead of the singing of the national anthem at the Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown Vancouver on Monday. Nov. 11, 2019.

The legion holds a trademark on the poppy when used as a symbol of remembrance, which includes "any colour or configuration."

Many of them grew up watching him on Coachs Corner – so the sudden firing of Don Cherry was shocking for Vancouver Canucks players. 17

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Another suggestion, from Zero Waste Canada, is to put an inconspicuous piece of cork on the end poppy pin, to hold it in place. 

Left to right: National Silver Cross Mother Reine Samson Dawe, Governor-General Julie Payette, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau and Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Lawrence MacAulay participate in the National Remembrance Day Ceremony, in Ottawa, on Nov. 11, 2019.

But as concern about single-use plastics rise, some people are opting for alternatives to the ubiquitous plastic poppy. 

Thousands of Canadians braved sub-zero temperatures in the nations capital on Monday to honour and remember all those – no matter their background – who offered up their lives to defend Canada, its values and its principles.

While there is no rule against people making and wearing their own poppy, commercial activities are not allowed. 

Reminders of that common cause among those who served this country and died for it figured prominently during this years Remembrance Day ceremony alongside calls from spiritual leaders for peace instead of war, unity rather than division, and respect for diversity.

The service began at 10 a.m. with a performance by the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir and Sarabande, followed by a combined performance by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, who sang Canadian singer Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.

Let us continue to make Canada worthy of their dedication and sacrifice, a country in which respect, harmony, inclusion, responsibility and kindness fill the air, Rabbi Reuven Bulka told the assembled crowd, speaking of those who had given their lives for Canada.

He went on to note that this year marked the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when Canada and its allies launched a massive amphibious assault on France that marked the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany in the Second World War, before suggesting every day should be a D-Day of sorts.

Among the most affecting moments in the ceremony was the arrival of 99-year-old Paul DeLorme, a Metis man who served with the South Saskatchewan Regiment in the Second World War, who came to lay a long-stemmed white rose at the cenotaph to honour his fallen comrades.

Let us dazzle with a dynamic devotion to our destiny as a country determined in its dedication to the dignified diversity of its people as we delight in the delivery of deferential decency with discipline and diligence to assure we can all the live Canadian dream, he said.

Similar scenes played out at cenotaphs and memorials across Canada as communities from coast to coast to coast marked Remembrance Day, exactly 101 years after the First World War ended.

Premier John Horgan says in a statement that Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on the horrors of war, loved ones lost and the sacrifice of those who returned with injuries, both visible and invisible.

Yet the calls for inclusion and respect in Ottawa stood out after hockey commentator Don Cherrys assertion over the weekend that he rarely sees people he believes to be new immigrants wearing poppies ahead of Remembrance Day, suggesting they in turn dont support veterans.

This year’s Remembrance Day marked 101 years since the signing of the armistice that ended the First World War, as well as the 75th anniversary of D-Day amid the Second World War.

Those comments on Cherrys weekly Coachs Corner segment during Saturdays national hockey telecast sparked an immediate backlash from the public, politicians and the NHL as well as apologies from Coachs Corner co-host, Ron MacLean, and broadcaster Sportsnet. Monday afternoon, Sportsnet announced that it has been decided it is the right time for (Cherry) to immediately step down.

The province’s largest ceremony took place at Victory Square in downtown Vancouver, where crowds spilled out onto Cambie and Hastings streets to help pay tribute at the cenotaph.

Asked about Cherrys comments in the morning, defence chief Gen. Jonathan Vance told The Canadian Press: Nobody should be shamed into wearing a poppy. People should wear a poppy because they want to and Im grateful that Canadians wear a poppy or do other things to remember.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart laid a ceremonial wreath on behalf of the city, while Defence Minister and Vancouver South MP Harjit Sajjan laid one for the government of Canada.

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay described Cherrys comments as totally inappropriate, noting people from all over the world have served in uniform to defend Canada and its way of life over the decades.

Today is the day to remember what veterans have done, what veterans have done from all walks of life, from all parts of the world, from all nationalities, from all religious groups, he said. We are Canadians. We support our veterans today and thats what we will continue to do.

As DeLorme — who was wounded in the 1942 Dieppe Raid and kept as a prisoner of war for three years — was introduced, the crowd spontaneously broke out into applause.

Mondays ceremony opened with hundreds of uniformed service members and cadets marching under leaden grey skies onto the plaza in front of the National War Memorial, where people had started gathering hours earlier to bear witness to the sombre occasion.

Two minutes of silence were held at 11 a.m., following a sounding of The Last Post. The 15th Field Artillery Regiment then performed a 21-gun salute at Portside Park.

A group of veterans soon followed with their own parade onto the plaza, their small number a testament to the passage of time as it continues to take its toll on Canadas ever-shrinking population of veterans from the Second World War and Korea.

Another veteran Penny Sterling, who served as a sergeant in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, placed her own rose on the cenotaph as well.

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, clad in an army uniform to indicate her role as Canadas commander-in-chief, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau were on hand to mark the occasion and lay wreaths of remembrance.

The national ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa saw tens of thousands brave the cold to pay tribute alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Also present was this years Silver Cross Mother, Reine Samson Dawe from near Kingston, Ont. Her youngest son, Capt. Matthew Dawe, was killed in Afghanistan in 2007 alongside five other Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter.

Hundreds gathered in Victoria on the legislature grounds to make the occasion, joined by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and members of the B.C. government.

At 11 oclock, the bells of the Peace Tower began to toll before the boom of a cannon filled the air and a lone bagpiper played the Lament, the two sounds a sharp contrast between the terrible power of war and the fragility of life – and the sadness that comes with its loss.

Thousands gathered at ceremonies across British Columbia Monday to honour the service and sacrifice of Canadian veterans for Remembrance Day.

We gather to affirm with one another our determination to remove the barriers of division in a spirit of reconciliation, Maj.-Gen. Guy Chapdelaine, the militarys chaplain general, prayed as the cannon continued to fire in the background.

We seek dialogue with one another in all spheres, social, political and religious, that in doing so, we may achieve a lasting peace. May this be so and may we all strive to continue our efforts to build a better world.

Veterans and cadets then joined together to parade down Cambie and Hastings streets to mark the end of the ceremony.

Describing Canadas veterans as the living embodiment of valour and service, Chapdelaine remembered those who struggle with physical and psychological injuries as well as Canadians whose place of birth was beyond the shores of Canada, who fought and died for freedom.

One of those attending Mondays ceremony in Ottawa was Dalip Singh Parwana, who laid a wreath on behalf of the Canadian Sikh Society. Parwana said he first arrived in Canada 33 years ago and has been attending Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa for the past decade.

I take part and I wear poppies and I donate and I have great respect for veterans, especially from the Canadian (military), he said If anybody has a comment like (Cherrys), that immigrants do not have an interest in Remembrance Day, I think its not right.

In Montreal, a light coat of new snow blanketed the ground as cannons sounded in the distance and the first of several dozen wreaths was laid at the foot of the cenotaph by Nicole and Robert Beauchamp, whose son Nicolas died in Afghanistan in 2007.

Al Martel, who served with Canadas Royal 22nd Regiment in the Korean War when he was 19 years old, was one of the veterans remembering his past years of service.

Lets face it, when we were there we didnt even know why, because the army didnt explain much of the ins and outs of that war, he said.

Today we figure that in one way it was a war that didnt solve anything, because theyre still at war (in Korea) – they signed an armistice but never ended the war.

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