For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, members of the public will be back at Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre for Remembrance Day services this Friday.
The service, typically the largest in Winnipeg, will be “back to normal,” said Armand Lavallee, chair of the Joint Veterans Association of Manitoba.
Organizers are hoping to see high attendance, after the cancellation of the service in 2020 and 2021 made it feel “like something was missing,” said Lavallee.
Past ceremonies at the convention centre have drawn upwards of 5,000 people.
This year, veteran Ralph Wild, 104, will be laying a wreath. Wild, who served in Britain’s Royal Air Force, used to attend a Remembrance Day service in England every year, Lavallee said, but came to the Joint Veterans Association four years ago at age 100.
Devin Beaudry is a retired Roayl Canadian Air Force sergeant, the Manitoba director of the Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones and a member of the Indigenous Veterans Of Manitoba. He is also a Joint Veterans Association organizer.
He said Remembrance Day marks a time for “everyone to take that moment to remember those who lost their lives, those who fought for Canada, for Turtle Island.”
“They continue to sacrifice, they continue to volunteer to wear that uniform and go into those conflicts to ensure that we have that freedom of choice,” said Beaudry.
With fewer living veterans of the two world wars every year, conversations around Remembrance Day are changing, he said, focusing more on recent conflicts Canada has been involved in, including those in Afghanistan, the Balkans and Iraq.
“The thoughts are still there — the remembrance is still there … of the sacrifices that the men and women gave for this country.”
Doors for the RBC Convention Centre’s Remembrance Day service will open at 9:30 a.m. on Friday, and the public is asked to be seated by 10:30 a.m. The service begins at 10:40 a.m.
Cindy Stumme, a past president at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 3 in Brandon, says Friday’s service at the city’s Keystone Centre will be the first full ceremony since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“Last year was just kind of coming out slow after the pandemic, and this year we really hope to be back with the full service as we’ve done it in past years … with full participation,” Stumme said.
The ceremony will include CFB Shilo’s 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery and 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. Four cadet corps will also be in attendance.
One of the main objectives of the legion is to ensure the community remembers the people who have served Canada, Stumme said, including those who died or were wounded.
“It’s taking an hour, a minute to stop and honour that.”
The Brandon Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Keystone Centre starts at 10 a.m.
At CFB Shilo, just west of Brandon, Remembrance Day ceremonies have been relatively normal during COVID-19, said public affairs officer Lori Truscott, but public participation has not been possible.
The public will once again be able to attend this Friday for the first time since 2019.
“I think it’s important that they have an opportunity to pay their respects … and to pause and reflect,” Truscott said, and to “make that active remembrance.”
“We have family and friends that live here on the base. So it’s important that we have services here.”
The week leading up to Remembrance Day is one of the busiest on the base, Truscott said — speakers visit schools to talk with students across the province and also attend various community services.
More people than ever reached out this year to invite CFB Shilo to be part of their services, she said, but the base has a limited number of people available to send, with many 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry members currently in Latvia as part of Canada’s Operation Reassurance.
Those attending Shilo’s Remembrance Day ceremony at the multipurpose training facility are asked to arrive by 10:30 a.m. The service can also be live streamed on the Shilo Stag Facebook page.
Other services across Manitoba
Here are some of the other Remembrance Day ceremonies taking place around Manitoba. You can also check the Royal Canadian Legion’s website to find a service near you.
Selkirk’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch 42 is hosting a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Selkirk Recreation Complex. Doors open at 10 a.m. and the ceremony starts at 10:30 a.m.
Portage la Prairie Legion Branch 65 will host a ceremony at Stride Place. Guests are asked to be seated in the arena by 10:30 a.m. A parade will take place at 10:45 a.m., with a moment of silence at 11 a.m.
The McCreary Remembrance Day service will take place at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 173. Doors open at 10 a.m., and the service begins at 10:45 a.m. Lunch will follow.
The Remembrance Day commemoration service in Dauphin will be held at Credit Union Place, starting at 10:45 a.m. The Remembrance Day cenotaph service will follow on Memorial Boulevard starting at noon.
Steinbach’s Remembrance Day ceremony takes place at the Pat Porter Active Living Centre. The service starts at 10:45 a.m. Doors open at 10 a.m and up to 400 people are allowed. The service will also be live streamed.
In Winkler, the ceremony at the P.W. Enns Centennial Concert Hall will begin at 10:45 a.m. Doors will open at 10:15 a.m.
The Morden Remembrance Day service takes place at 10:45 a.m. at Confederation Park.
In Neepawa, the Remembrance Day service begins at 10:45 a.m. at Yellowhead Hall.
A service in The Pas will be held at the Kelsey Community School on Friday at 10:45 a.m. A parade will muster at Royal Canadian Legion Branch #19 at 10:15 a.m. and depart for the school at 10:30 a.m.
In Niverville, there will be a Remembrance Day service at the Niverville Heritage Centre at 10 a.m.
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