2020 Remembrance Day to go ahead in Squamish | Squamish Chief

2020 Remembrance Day to go ahead in Squamish

Fewer people in more open spaces downtown this year; Squamish Nation not holding its annual event

Many of the veterans who belong to the Squamish Legion have been through far tougher times than a pandemic, to be sure.

That said, this year's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 277 Remembrance Day ceremonies present a challenge even they haven't encountered before.

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"It certainly knocked everything for a loop," said Art McLain, president of the local Legion.

The downtown Nov. 11 ceremony is going ahead, with some pandemic-related changes.

This year, there will be no parade and the number of people involved in the event will be drastically reduced.

"It will only involve six or seven people and they will get together at the entrance to the cenotaph," McLain said.

Typically, before the ceremony, rows of veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP officers, and cadets march to the memorial, led by a pipe band and Colour Party. Following the ceremony, they march away to mark the close of the ceremony.

"Instead of there being a pipe band, there is only going to be one piper... there are only going to be four flag bearers and the cenotaph is going to be cordoned off," said McLain.

pipe band
Source: File photo by David Buzzard

"That is not to stop people from going in the park area or going out on the pavement if they want to see it. It is just, unfortunately, because of this [pandemic], there won't be allowed in the cenotaph itself."

He advises people to come down at about 10:45 a.m., just before the ceremony gets underway.

Social distancing and masks are recommended.

It is up to spectators to control themselves, where following pandemic guidelines are concerned, he said.

"We go through all the format: the Last Post, the raising of the flag and everything, but the wreath ceremony will be more controlled," he added.

(Anyone who wants to lay a wreath, should contact the Legion at 604-898-9368.)

"We do what we can for everybody," he said.

After the event, unlike previous years when typically many spectators and Legion members alike congregated at the Legion Hall, this year only 40 will be allowed in.

"We have to give preference to veterans, people who are still serving, and RCMP. They have to get first preference, and then the members," McLain said.

If attending the hall after the ceremony is a priority, McLain suggested getting in touch with him at the Legion ahead of time.

As for Squamish Nation, which usually holds its own Squamish Remembrance Day ceremony at Totem Hall, due to the pandemic this year’s event has been cancelled, though members will be placing a wreath at the monument located at Totem Hall, a Squamish Valley representative said.

The pandemic has had unexpected ripple effects for Squamish's Royal Canadian Legion Branch 277. With a couple of local pubs shutting down of late, more people have been stopping by the hall for a drink, McLain said.

"On the weekend, and quite a few times through the week, we have a lot more customers than we normally have," he said.

McLain said he has been encouraged to see that more younger people are coming.

"Some of them have the wrong idea about what the legion is all about, they thought they couldn't come in unless they were a soldier, so we are trying to get them away from that," he said. "Basically, anyone can walk into the Legion."

Of course, like all establishments these days, there are pandemic restrictions.

Other than darts, they have had to stop all games, such as cribbage, for example, and the number of customers is capped at 40; tables must be occupied by people within a bubble of six or less.

Fast Facts:

~From Veteran Affairs Canada

*The first Remembrance Day was observed on November 11, 1931. Before that, the day was marked as Armistice Day.

*Some of the 54 Commonwealth member states, such as Canada, the U.K. and Australia, observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. Other nations observe a solemn day but at different dates. For example, ANZAC Day is observed in New Zealand on April 25. In South Africa, Poppy Day is marked on the Sunday that falls closest to Nov. 11.

*Many nations that are not members of the Commonwealth also observe Remembrance Day on Nov. 11, including France, Belgium and Poland.

*The U.S. used to commemorate Armistice Day on Nov. 11. However, in 1954 they changed the name to Veterans Day.


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