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Canadians welcomed to attend Remembrance ceremonies, told to wear masks and distance

Some restrictions and changes will nonetheless remain in place as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat
Sentinels stand guard during the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on November 11, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Canadians will return to cenotaphs and monuments across much of the country on Thursday morning to remember and pay their respects to those who fought and died in service of Canada.

This year’s Remembrance Day ceremonies will stand in stark contrast to last year, when organizers discouraged people from attending in person because of the second wave of COVID-19.

Royal Canadian Legion spokeswoman Nujma Bond is expecting a return to some semblance of normalcy, including at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, where people are being welcomed to attend.

Some restrictions and changes will nonetheless remain in place as COVID-19 continues to pose a threat, Bond said, with masks and physical distancing requirements in place for anyone planning to attend ceremonies.

The Legion has also again cancelled the traditional veterans’ parade in Ottawa, which has in the past seen elderly veterans from the Second World War and Korea march alongside counterparts from more recent conflicts and operations.

“But there will be an area for veterans who wish to attend the ceremony to stand and sit near the National War Memorial,” Bond said.

Some Legion branches across the country will also be again forgoing in-person events because of the pandemic and instead asking people to watch their local ceremony on TV or online, she added, which is an option for the national ceremony as well.

There had been questions ahead of this year’s event around whether the government would keep flags at half-mast, as they had been since May in memory of Indigenous children who died attending residential schools.

But the government opted on Sunday to raise the flags back up to their full height before lowering them again on Monday in honour of Indigenous Veterans Day, and they will be lowered again on Thursday.

Aside from the mask and physical distancing requirements and the decision not to have a veterans’ parade, Bond said this year’s national ceremony will include many of the elements that Canadians have come to know over the decades.

That includes a reading of the Act of Remembrance in English, French and an Indigenous language, which Bond said this year will be the Métis language of Michif.

Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press

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