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Military aid in the fight against COVID-19 noted as a pandemic limits the events of Remembrance Day

OTTAWA – A modest crowd gathered in downtown Ottawa to attend a solemn Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial, instead of the tens of thousands that normally show up.Many of the wreaths were already placed around the cenotaph, a way to keep the numbers down as the country grapples with the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. “On this day when so much has changed since we last gathered, we can be comforted by Her Majesty the Queen’s words to Canadians in the context of this pandemic,” Maj.-Gen. Guy Chapdelaine, a Roman Catholic priest who is chaplain general for the Canadian military, said Wednesday morning: “Hope is to be found in the care given to the vulnerable and needy,” he said, repeating the message twice. are encouraged to stay home today as they celebrate the service and sacrifice of those who gave their lives to defend the country. Remembrance Day solemnity collides with the threat posed by COVID-19, causing a small gathering of about several 100 people, instead of the usual 30,000, observe the two-minute silence around the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Royal Canadian Legion is explicitly discouraging Canadians from attending Memorial Day ceremonies in person this year and asking people to instead watch on TV or online Yet, there was a small crowd that watched the ceremony from behind the barriers that the police put up along Elgin Street in downtown Ottawa, under a gloomy sky. Chris Turenne was one of them, saying that being able to come to the ceremony is what matters to him. He said people should be responsible and abide by the rules of COVID-19 but the ceremony should have taken place normally. “There have been other protests and rallies, and they seemed to be going well,” he said. “I don’t know why this should be any different.” Troy Harber, who was also present on Wednesday morning, said he understands why people are not allowed to attend the ceremony. “We have to keep our distance,” he said. he said the event was exciting for him because he grew up hearing stories about his relatives who fought in World War II. “Some of them were injured. It is quite exciting. “As promised by the legion, there were many of the traditional elements of the ceremonies, such as the performance of the Last Post, the singing of In Flanders Fields, a scheduled flyby of military aircraft over downtown Ottawa after the ceremony was canceled due to There was also a special emphasis on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II after many commemorations scheduled earlier this year in Europe and elsewhere were canceled due to the pandemic. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived at the National War Memorial with his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Both wore masks, as did the others in attendance. Other attendees at the ceremony included Governor General Julie Payette and Debbie Sullivan, this year’s Silver Cross Mother. on HMCS Chicoutimi, a submarine that was on its way to Canada in October 2004. Everyone laid wreaths during the ceremony on Wednesday, replacing the usual chorus of vo there were three members of the Ottawa Children’s Choir. One sang a solo version of the national anthem before the two minutes of silence introduced by a trumpet. Another then performed a solo performance of “God Save the Queen”. Perry Bellegarde, national head of the First Nations Assembly, as well as There was also the Chief of Defense, General Jonathan Vance. There was a small military parade with a band, but no veterans parade on the street.Many other legion branches across the country also prepared bare ceremonies, with parades of veterans and military personnel on canceled duty and wreaths laid before of events. Private ceremonies are also planned by long-term care facilities that host some of Canada’s oldest surviving veterans, many of whom might normally attend a local commemoration but who are particularly at high risk from COVID-19. On Tuesday, Trudeau encouraged Canadians to celebrate Remembrance Day despite the pandemic. “While we can’t get together like we usually do, we can always show our support to our veterans by wearing a poppy and watching online memorial day ceremonies,” he said in French. “Thinking about Remembrance Day, we pay tribute to our veterans who have given us so much and to those who continue to serve today.” Conservative leader Erin O’Toole echoed the sentiment in a Noi statement Wednesday morning. “” Reflection, remembrance and respect: these are not actions that can only happen during parades or at cenotaphs. These are emotional acts that we will support during a year that Canadians have dedicated themselves to adaptation and perseverance in these troubled times, “he said. Outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, Premier Doug Ford and a small group of dignitaries. and members of the military. attended a service closed to the public due to the pandemic. Ford said that the event at Queen’s Park would normally be attended by far more men and women in uniform. “We must face a new enemy in COVID-19 “he said. Be careful because our health and safety is paramount. But those we honor are with us in spirit. They are with us from the safety of their homes.” The service paid tribute to the sacrifice of all veterans, but it also featured the unveiling of a new memorial for those who served in Afghanistan. The memorial includes a stone from an Inukshuk dedicated to the fallen that was erected by Canadian soldiers at Kandahar airport. “Through their courageous actions, they have brought peace to the world,” Ford said of veterans who served in Afghanistan. “It is a debt of gratitude that we can never fully repay except by protecting everyone they fought for.” A modest crowd gathered around the National War Memorial in St. John’s, NL, raised their heads Wednesday morning after two minutes of silence as a Cormorant helicopter flew over the harbor and the memorial below. they were invited to observe the 11.00 am Remembrance Day moment of silence from their doors this year, to stay safe in a global pandemic. However, around 100 spectators gathered along the streets of Water and Duckworth near the memorial to pay their respects to the soldiers lost in the war. They wore masks as they bowed their heads, distancing themselves from each other. Premier Andrew Furey and Federal Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O’Regan placed wreaths at the foot of the memorial as cannon shots echoed across the water and through The Narrows. St. John Mayor Danny Breen, who grew up near the memorial, was among those who laid the wreaths. His father’s older brother, Jack Breen, was only 19 when he was killed while fighting in Beaumont Hamel with the Newfoundland regiment. “He was lost in action.. He doesn’t have a known grave,” Breen said. Many young men in the downtown neighborhood next to the memorial fought in Beaumont-Hamel and did not return home, said Breen, who comes to the memorial every year to honor them. “It’s a privilege and an honor to lay a crown,” he said. said. This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 11, 2020. “With files by Maan Alhmidi in Ottawa, Shawn Jeffords in Toronto and Sarah Smellie in St. John’s, NLLee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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