ATHABASCA/BOYLE — Supporting our military and first responders, the people who make up the Royal Canadian Legion is a point of pride for Canadians, but for the second year in a row, Legion brass has opted against the large gatherings that normally occur every Nov. 11 for smaller, outdoor or virtual events, due to COVID-19.
Every year in cities, towns and villages across the country, people of all ages and all walks of life gather to show appreciation for the serving, the ones who served and the ones who were lost. This Remembrance Day will still serve that purpose, but those ceremonies will either be virtual, held outdoors, or put off altogether.
“Albertans have always been supportive of Canada’s Veterans and one of the ways that they demonstrate this is by participating in public Remembrance Day activities” said John Mahon, president of the Royal Canadian Legion's Alberta-NWT Command in a recent media release. “This year, we are asking Albertans to take the two minutes, at 11 o’clock on November 11, to remember the sacrifices that Canada’s veterans have made on their behalf, but to do so at home, or wherever they might be.”
“While we cannot gather as we normally would, it is no less important to take the time to remember. This is an opportunity for us all to remember, with our loved ones, at home while helping to ensure that we continue to keep our veterans and our neighbours safe, said Tammy Wheeler, executive director for Alberta-NWT Command.
“Large, indoor gatherings simply pose too great a risk to the health and safety of our Veterans and to the public at this point.”
In Athabasca, ceremonies will be held outside of the Athabasca Legion Branch 103, but the Boyle Legion Branch 169 was still not sure last week, according to contact Bev Anderson.
“We’re talking about it, but haven’t decided yet,” she said. “We’re waiting to see what the weather will be like and will decide closer to (Nov. 11),” she said, adding the wreaths will be laid regardless of whether they host a public event or not.
On Monday afternoon, the Boyle Legion announced on Facebook there would in fact be a small ceremony at the Legion Cenotaph starting at 10:30 a.m.
"The few active members we have feel we need to have a service for our veterans and in memory of those who fought for our freedoms," the post read.
Athabasca Legion president Brian Scott said the event will take place, but the duration is unknown and will depend on the weather.
“The ceremony itself will probably start five or 10 minutes to 11 a.m.," he said. “So, if people are there around 10:30, depending on what the weather's like.”
Last year’s ceremony was cold, but well attended, with several dignitaries and residents braving the cold as wreaths were laid and Taps was played, but Albertans can honour the day even if they are unable to attend the event.