In 2020 Remembrance Day commemorations, due to the coronavirus pandemic, will look vastly different from how they have been in the past Maria Lewis president of the Prince Rupert Branch #27 of the Royal Canadian Legion, said.
“Dominion Command has issued instructions on what we can and can not do,” Lewis said. “We are having a very scaled-down ceremony in Prince Rupert. Minimal time will be spent at the cenotaph this year.”
In Prince Rupert the ceremony will start at 11 a.m. at the cenotaph which will be very short, Lewis said. There will be modifications to the usual program.
While it may difficult for some, ceremonies are limited to no more than 50 people due to COVID-19 restrictions, even though it is outside, Lewis said.
Normally up to 140 wreaths are laid during the ceremony with names being read out four at a time which will not be happening this year, Lewis said.
“The Canadian Rangers have volunteered to assist with wreath-laying this year prior to the start of the ceremony,” she said.”If wreaths are not laid before, they can be laid afterward.”
No children are permitted to be involved she said, and there is no parade this year with colour party numbers being reduced as well. The Royal Canadian Sea Cadets also will not be the armed sentries at the ceremonies due to pandemic rules.
Lewis said a letter from Dominion Command explains the necessity for some commemorations to continue.
“The importance of a live ceremony honouring our Veterans and their sacrifices is considered paramount by the Legion, especially during the 75th anniversary of the Second World War,” the letter reads.
“Many of the ceremonies have been cancelled or delayed by the pandemic. The symbology of our Legion and community leaders paying homage to past sacrifices, and before the eyes of those that served is more important now than ever.”
The local legion is expecting poppy donations to be down because they can not engage the assistance of the Girl Guides, Boy Scouts, or Sea Cadets to offer poppies to the public as they usually do each year.
Canadian Legions rely on the income from the poppy campaign to support critical programs and initiatives assisting veterans in a range of issues such as homelessness, food insecurity, operational stress injuries, and the application process for receiving government benefits.
“The poppy funds never leave our community,” Lewis said. “The funds are vital to our community. They stay in Prince Rupert and are used for Prince Rupert veterans. All of the money goes back into the pockets of Veterans in our community.”
Close to $20 million is donated each year nationally during the campaign according to the Legions national website.
Donated funds also support Veteran families and communities, and help promote Remembrance, the Legion said. People can choose to donate through the Legion’s national website.
“In most locations, traditional poppy boxes will accept coins and donors will receive poppies as usual,” the Royal Canadian Legion posted on its website. “Because of the challenges presented by COVID-19 restrictions, Legion Branches will be discouraged from setting up donation tables or placing volunteers at business entrances and other public locations.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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