‘A very special Remembrance Day’: Canadian events mark 100 years since end of WW I

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Remembrance Day ceremonies on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, and at city halls, places of worship and military bases across Canada Sunday commemorated the end of the First World War a century ago.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan headed the ceremony, which began in sub-zero temperatures, as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Paris for events with other world leaders.

Sajjan arrived at the National War Memorial along with Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, who recently returned from Belgium, where she attended additional commemorative events.

Among those Payette greeted as the ceremony got underway was Winnipeg resident Anita Cenerini, who was named as the 2018 National Silver Cross mother, representing all military mothers who have lost a child to war. Cenerini fought for her son, Pte. Thomas Welch, to receive full military honours after his suicide.

This is the first time the legion has chosen a mother who lost a child to suicide for the year-long designation. After serving in Afghanistan in 2003, the 22-year-old ended his life on May 8, 2004, at the army base in Petawawa, Ont.

At 11 a.m. Sunday, a sombre silence was broken by the beginning of a 21-gun salute and the deep tolling of a bell marking the solemn occasion. Five CF-18 Hornet aircraft from Cold Lake, Alta., also soared over the crowd at the National War Memorial in a « missing man » formation. The crowd paused at 11 a.m. to reflect on the sacrifices of Canadians who gave their lives in conflict around the world.

During the First World War, more than 66,000 Canadians died on the battlefields of Europe and more than 45,000 lost their lives during the Second World War. The Remembrance Day ceremonies acknowledged the contributions of all Canadians who have served and are still serving today.

Thousands gather for Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa:

Remembrance Day ceremony on Parliament Hill commemorates the end of the First World War a century ago. 3:28

Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Gré​goire Trudeau, accompanied Sajjan at the ceremony, and was joined by Senator Peter Harder, Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, Liberal MP Karen McCrimmon representing Veterans Affairs Canada and Thomas Irvine, national president of Royal Canadian Legion.

‘Very special Remembrance Day’

As the Ottawa Children’s Choice sang In Flanders Field, wreaths were laid at the foot of the war memorial to remember the fallen. Payette put down the first wreath, followed by Cenerini on behalf of « The Mothers of Canada, » then Sajjan on behalf of the government, as well as others representing various federal departments, and even one representing the young people of Canada and another on behalf of Indigenous people.

In an interview before the ceremony began, Sajjan told CBC’s Hannah Thibedeau that this is a « very special Remembrance Day » because of the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistice, ending the so-called Great War.

« We as a nation have been defined by it in many different ways, » said Canada’s defence minister, a Canadian Armed Forces veteran.

Poppies are pinned to a cross at Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Grand Parade in Halifax on Sunday, one of the many events across Canada. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

« Even today our men and women in Armed Forces are deployed all over the world. And let’s not forget the families as well who serve alongside them. »

Sajjan also stressed the important role of peacekeepers.

« World War I was a consequence where peace was not found … when we look at the work they do, we’re proud of the resilience in not only reducing conflict, but also preventing it. »

Honouring the fallen

In a statement Sunday from the Prime Minister’s Office, Trudeau emphasized the role Canadians played in the First World War.

« One hundred years ago today, the Armistice between Germany and the Allies ended the First World War. As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the armistice, we also mark Canada’s Hundred Days, » his statement says, in part.

« During the ‘100 Days Offensive,’ Canadians spearheaded attacks that overcame the last lines of German defences and paved the way to final victory. These soldiers were the face and strength of a young country that sacrificed beyond measure and never faltered in its duty. »

Trudeau also encouraged people in Canada to take time out for two minutes of silence, to « remember every Canadian who has sacrificed their future for generations beyond their own. We stand today, free and at peace, because of them.

Mayor John Tory, centre, participates in a wreath ceremony during the sunrise Remembrance Day service at Prospect Ceremony in Toronto on Sunday. (Canadian Press)

« Lest we forget. »

In Toronto, among the events across the city, there was a military parade through the downtown streets, with the primary ceremony happening at Old City Hall, with Mayor John Tory in attendance.

Premier Doug Ford hosted Ontario’s official Queen’s Park Remembrance Day ceremony in Toronto, where he encouraged Canadians to remember soldiers past and present as they reflect on the centennial anniversary.

After a ceremony that saw as many as 500 troops march towards the Ontario Legislature while John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields was read aloud, Ford told the crowd that « Canadian heroes span every conflict and every generation. »

On the East Coast, ceremonies included ones in Nova Scotia, where crowds of people filled the square at Halifax’s Grand Parade. As the clock struck 11 a.m., the gun on nearby Citadel Hill fired the first of 22 shots.

And in Prince Edward Island, hundreds gathered in Charlottetown to honour the fallen. The sombre crowd stood in near silence as it reflected on the battles that ended a century ago, and those that have come since.

Montreal’s main ceremony began at the Quebec Provincial Command, at Place du Canada. Quebec City’s event took place on the Plains of Abraham with Premier Franç​ois Legault in attendance.

Meanwhile, a church in Fernie, B.C., commemorated the 100th anniversary of the armistice by ringing its bell 100 times. Thousands of people also turned out for commemorations at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.

With files from The Canadian Press

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Hundreds honour Canada’s fallen at Lethbridge Remembrance Day services – Lethbridge

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Hundreds gathered at a pair of Lethbridge events to mark Remembrance Day on Sunday.

For veterans like John Moreland, this year had particular meaning.

“It’s almost overwhelming when you think about it,” Moreland said. “100 years ago and watching people in the crowd today, enduring a little bit of cold and snow here, [it’s] nothing like what they endured.”

“I think it’s very important that we remember all the time,” he said.


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Sunday marks 100 years since the November 11, 1918 armistice was signed to end the First World War.

The first service took place at 9:30 a.m. at Exhibition Park.

The second started at noon at the cenotaph near city hall.

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Moreland spent time with the Navy, Army and Air Force over his 23-year career in the military.

He thinks it’s important for young children to meet and learn from veterans.

“It puts them a little bit closer when they see an actual veteran talking about different things. Whether it was the Cold War, UN tours, Afghanistan, [it] doesn’t matter,” Moreland said. “It puts it to the forefront for the kids and it’s more real for them to actually talk to someone.”


READ MORE:
Canada’s Remembrance Day ceremonies mark 100-year anniversary of First World War armistice

Dennis Jobe served more than three decades in the military, spending many years in Germany after the Second World War.

The reaction he has received from children, he said, has been heart-warming.

“It’s wonderful. I’ve had more youth come and hold me and thank me,” Jobe said. “It’s a rather important, emotional thing, too. I must say, I’m very pleased to see the turnout.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Ceremonies across New Brunswick mark Remembrance Day Sunday – New Brunswick

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People gathered inside the Moncton Coliseum Sunday to mark Remembrance Day, one of the many ceremonies held across New Brunswick on Sunday.

It was a chance to pay tribute to those who have fought, and those who continue to fight, for our freedoms.

“Stop and think,” said Legion Branch 6 Chaplain David Evans. “This is the 100th anniversary of the end of the war to end wars, which did not end wars.”

“We’ve been in the Second World War, we’ve had the Korean [War], we’ve had people in Afghanistan, we’ve had people on peacekeeping missions all over the world.”

READ MORE: Canadians travel to Mons, Belgium to honour relatives who served in First World War

Many wreaths were laid by veterans, dignitaries and the rest of the community as part of the ceremony

Callum Smith/Global News

Evans says he is concerned about the possibility of further conflicts, but wants to avoid that at all costs.

“War is a time that we remember what happened, but we also — it’s a time that we want to be determined to do our best, our absolute very best to avoid war in the future,” he says.

Peter Beers, first-vice president of Legion Branch 6, says it’s an important time to remember and honour those who risked their lives for our freedom.

“Some [veterans] will come from veterans’ centres and hospitals, and be transported over by the bus,” he says. “They’ll be sitting with us also; they like to be here. Some of them, the average [age] right now [is] between 80s and up in their 90s.”

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Among the many wreaths placed was one that bears special significance for some people, like firefighter Diane Doiron, who experienced the gay purge — a period when members of the military and other agencies were investigated and sometimes fired because of their sexual orientation.


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“It’s a chance for us to be able to say thanks for those who are not here today,” says Doiron.

“A lot of our brothers and sisters didn’t get to be here today because of what happened with the purge, and this is our chance to say ‘thank you.’”

Doiron says a 2017 apology made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was on her mind as she laid the LGBTQ2 wreath.

WATCH: No Stone Left Alone Remembrance Day special






© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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