Kitchener-Waterloo

No Remembrance Day parade but legions still plan to honour veterans

Remembrance Day parades in Waterloo region have been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the local zone commander for the Legion says they still plan to honour veterans.

Local zone commander says no vets, no cadets for poppy campaign

Local zone commander for the Legion Jim Meyer says even though Remembrance Day parades are cancelled, they still plan to honour veterans. (Joe Pavia CBC)

Remembrance Day parades in Waterloo region have been cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the local zone commander for the Legion says they still plan to honour veterans.

Jim Meyer says things are going to be very different this year because of COVID-19.

"The usual Remembrance Day parade down the main street of town is not going to happen," Meyer told CBC News. 

"What most branches are doing is having a very small ceremony at their cenotaph. Some branches are having 10 or 12 people like politicians and local dignitaries only laying a wreath and a very limited number of ceremonies," he said, noting members of the public will not be permitted to attend to abide by provincial rules around gatherings. Instead, people will be directed to watch the national ceremony, which will be streamed online.

"It's going to be very different, but the ceremonies are going to be done."

Meyer is assuring the public that the poppy campaign is still on, but says, 'It's going to be quite different, though.' (Travis Golby/CBC)

Meyer said while most people are "a little bit upset," they also understand how things are with COVID-19. 

"Generally people understand that this is a safe way to do things, and [it's] simply the way it's got to be done," Meyer said. "They're just appreciative that we're still going to do something to honour our veterans."

Poppy campaign will be 'quite different' this year

Meanwhile, Meyer is assuring the public that the poppy campaign is still on, but "it's going to be quite different."

A noticeable difference this year is that cadets will not be out "tagging" or distributing poppies at various stores.

"The Department of Defence is not allowing them to do that this year. So, cadets and the military could not get involved in the poppy campaign this year," Meyer said.

"A lot of stores do not want anyone actually tagging at their store. And if there is someone that's standing at a door of a store, they cannot actually pin the poppy on anyone," he added.

"They have to have the poppy sitting six feet away from them on a table. And they have to make sure they don't get any closer than six feet to the customers. So, there are not many places that are actually going to have veterans standing at the door."

A number of national corporations and international partners have already told the Legion to bring poppies and countertop boxes, Meyer said.

"There are also a lot of local stores too [that] will still allow us to bring in a poppy box so you can throw in your loonies and toonies or whatever, if you so choose, and take a poppy," Meyer said. 

"But as far as I'm seeing, people distributing poppies at storefronts, there'll be very little of that this year in most towns."

Meyer said a lot of the Legions are also accepting donations via their Facebook page or website.

Donations can also be made to the National Poppy Fund on the national website, he said.

With files from Kate Bueckert

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