OTTAWA — Federal political leaders are calling on Canadians to find different ways to remember the sacrifices of the country’s war veterans because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a speech Thursday marking Veterans’ Week and Remembrance Day in the House of Commons, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Canadians can show their gratitude to veterans not only by remembering those who fought wars decades ago, but by also thanking members of the military who more recently came to the rescue when COVID-19 overwhelmed long-term care homes in some parts of the country.
“Soldiers kept our seniors, our loved ones safe and gave a much-needed hand to the overwhelmed workers in long-term care homes in Ontario and Quebec in Operation Laser. They deployed into an incredibly difficult situation that no one could have prepared for,” Singh said.
They saved lives and deserve gratitude, Singh added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau noted many Canadians have already been supporting veterans throughout the pandemic by delivering groceries and helping them in other ways.
“We see it in young people getting groceries for older veterans to keep them safe. We see it in frontline workers, who after hours of standing on tired feet, never give up as they care for our parents and grandparents — the last members of the greatest generation,” Trudeau said.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said Remembrance Day this year can be marked by watching online services, or by wearing a poppy.
“Respect the sacrifice of those who came before us by wearing a poppy, even if you will be the only person to see it. Learn about our history and our military heritage and the incredible stories of bravery of our men and women in uniform,” O’Toole said.
For the first time in a century there won’t be traditional parades of Remembrance.
Memory. Remembrance. Respect.
These aren’t physical actions.
I’m challenging Canadians to show our commitment to remember Veterans and those who serve in new ways.
— Erin O’Toole (@erinotoole) November 5, 2020
Veteran Affairs Canada encouraged Canadians to gather virtually for a Remembrance Day ceremony this year.
“One of the things that I would really like all Canadians to do is if they don’t have access to a computer, on Nov. 11, at 11 a.m., just taking that one minute of silence to reflect on the importance of the freedoms that we have today. That in itself is commemorative and it’s remembering those who fought for us,” said Robert Loken, with Veterans Affairs.
Loken added Remembrance Day falls during national Veterans’ Week so Veteran Affairs has also created several virtual ways to mark the 75th anniversary in September of the end of the Second World War, including a podcast.
The annual Remembrance Day ceremony at the cenotaph in Vancouver is by invite-only this year, with a maximum 50 guests. Vancouver council passed a bylaw earlier this week, allowing veterans to park in the city free for the next year.
Surrey is also holding a virtual Remembrance Day ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. The ceremony will be broadcast from the Cloverdale cenotaph and can be watched on Facebook.