Manitoba Remembrance Day ceremonies downsized, go virtual amid COVID-19

Remembrance Day services across Canada looked a bit different this year.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many ceremonies to downsize significantly, stream online or cancel altogether.

Joint Veterans Association chairman Armand Lavallee is instrumental in organizing what would normally be Winnipeg’s largest Remembrance Day ceremony at the RBC Convention Centre.

Read more: How COVID-19 is impacting Remembrance Day ceremonies in Manitoba

“We would normally have about 5,000 people there and we couldn’t possibly do it now,” said Lavallee, who also served with the Canadian Armed Forces for 25 years.

“It’s certainly different, this is the first time I haven’t attended a Remembrance Day service for many, many years.”

Armand Lavalle says this is the first time he hasn’t attended a Remembrance Day service in many years.
Armand Lavalle says this is the first time he hasn’t attended a Remembrance Day service in many years.Marney Blunt / Global News

Lavallee, along with many others, paid their respects at home while watching Remembrance Day services on television or online. Lavallee says it’s crucial for all Canadians to pay their respects, even from home.

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“It’s all the way across Canada, all Canadians will remember on the same day,” he said. “These people that gave up their lives are the ones that brought us the freedom, so it’s important to remember them.”

Many legions around Manitoba hosted small, private ceremonies and streamed them online, including in St. Norbert and Charleswood legion.

Read more: Remembrance Day is different this year. Here’s how Canadians are commemorating

West Kildonan legion Branch 30 also streamed their ceremony on YouTube and Facebook.

“People are in tune with today. The young and old, they’re remembering,” West Kildonan legion branch 30 president Stephane Guindon said. “They’re finding a way to tune in, they’re finding a way to observe, (and) they’re finding a way to remember and reflect.”

West Kildonan legion branch 30 president Stephane Guindon adds a poppy to the wreath outside the legion on Main Street on Remembrance Day.
West Kildonan legion branch 30 president Stephane Guindon adds a poppy to the wreath outside the legion on Main Street on Remembrance Day.Marney Blunt / Global news

Guindon says he hopes the memories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice won’t be lost on future generations.

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“They’re incredibly important to remember,” he said. “And it’s important for us to make sure that generations coming up behind us have the full understanding of it.”

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