Canadians stopped and paid tribute to our fallen soldiers Wednesday, though the COVID-19 pandemic meant many traditional Remembrance Day ceremonies were either cancelled or had gone virtual.
A modest crowd gathered in downtown Ottawa to witness a solemn Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial, instead of the tens of thousands who normally show up.
Many of the wreaths were already positioned around the cenotaph, one way to keep the number of people down as the country grapples with the deadly second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On this day when so much has changed since the last time we gathered, may we be comforted by the words from Her Majesty the Queen to Canadians in the context of this pandemic,” Maj.-Gen. Guy Chapdelaine, a Roman Catholic priest who is chaplain general of the Canadian Armed Forces, said Wednesday morning.
“Hope is to be found in the care given to the vulnerable and to those in need,” he said, repeating the message twice.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrived at the National War Memorial with his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau. Both wore masks, as did others in attendance.
Other participants at the ceremony included Gov. Gen. Julie Payette and Debbie Sullivan, this year’s Silver Cross Mother.
Sullivan’s son, Chris Saunders, was a naval officer who was killed after a fire broke out on HMCS Chicoutimi, a submarine that was on its way to Canada in October 2004.
They all laid wreaths as part of the ceremony Wednesday.
Many in-person ceremonies cancelled across Canada
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of big in-person ceremonies were scaled back or cancelled across Canada.
Vancouver’s Remembrance Day ceremony usually attracts about 20,000 people. This year’s gathering was livestreamed on the city’s Facebook and YouTube pages.
The City of Toronto also cancelled all in-person Remembrance Day events and instead opted for virtual commemorations that were streamed on its website and social media channels.
A small crowd gathered at a Toronto cenotaph to mark Remembrance Day in one of several pared-down ceremonies across the city.
Several bystanders – most of them wearing masks – gathered as city officials laid wreaths and paid respects to the country’s veterans.
Mayor John Tory noted that Toronto had been marking Remembrance Day at the cenotaph for 100 years, with the first ceremony taking place during another pandemic, the Spanish flu.