'It's always in your heart': Montrealers pay respects at Remembrance Day ceremony
Mayor-elect Valérie Plante and outgoing mayor Denis Coderre placed a wreath at the cenotaph together
Veterans, public figures and citizens came together to pay their respects at the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at Place du Canada, Saturday morning.
A 21-gun salute began the proceedings at 11 a.m. sharp.
Remembrance Day ceremony about to start in downtown Montreal <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/rememberanceday?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#rememberanceday</a> <a href="https://t.co/YY62nBcet8">pic.twitter.com/YY62nBcet8</a>—@simon_nak
For many, the ceremony was a time to remember fallen comrades and family members, and those still serving.
"It's a day to reflect. A day to remember those who have fought for our freedom and gone before us," said Tracy Cross, who spent 17 years serving with the Canadian Armed Forces.
His time in the military is something he will never forget, he added.
"It's always in your heart. A lot of my friends went there lost their lives, and this is why we're here today," Cross said. "I'm here to remember them."
Eugene Montour gave a speech in the Mohawk language Kanien'keha. He served with the United States army for 22 years, from 1974 to 1996.
"It's a time when all the veterans get together," Montour said. "But in my opinion, we should celebrate Remembrance Day throughout the year."
Vets call for stat holiday
Remembrance Day is a statutory holiday in most Canadian provinces — but not in Quebec. For Montour, Quebec veterans deserve the chance to participate in the ceremony, without having to take a day off work.
"I believe Remembrance Day should be [a holiday]. It gives the opportunity to those who have never been to a Remembrance Day ceremony time to come out and participate," he said.
Cross agreed, saying a statutory holiday would give people a chance to reflect on the soldiers that fought for Canadians' freedom.
"We should give our utmost respect to them," Cross said.
Southwest borough mayor Benoit Dorais, who is a member of Projet Montréal, said that making Remembrance Day a stat holiday is not in the city's plans for now.
"For sure we can take a look at it. It's not an official [part of our platform]," Dorais said.
'We must remember'
Mayor-elect Valérie Plante was also present at the ceremony and laid a wreath with outgoing mayor Denis Coderre.
"We must remember the men and women who gave their lives to protect our country and our homeland," said Plante.
She said that some 20 years ago, she worked as a tour guide at Vimy Ridge in France and that she was proud to be at the ceremony in her capacity as mayor-elect.
"I often met families of veterans who came to visit and who were obviously very moved when I would take them through the trenches," she said.
"So it's really important for me to be here today and I'm very proud as the first female mayor of Montreal to make one of my first official public appearances here."
Plante and Coderre lay wreath together on behalf of City of Montreal <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RemembraceDay?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#RemembraceDay</a> <a href="https://t.co/62LjllAILG">pic.twitter.com/62LjllAILG</a>—@simon_nak
Paulette Cook, provincial secretary of the Quebec Legion, said that a total of 50 wreaths were placed during the ceremony "to remember all the veterans who died in the wars and also to commemorate those veterans who are still with us today."
The event was held in front of the cenotaph, on the south side of René Lévesque Boulevard between Peel and de la Cathédrale streets.
More ceremonies this Sunday
A number of other ceremonies are taking place on Sunday across the city:
Residents of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce will gather in at Vimy Place in N.D.G. Park for a ceremony at 3 p.m.
Activities in Pointe-Claire are scheduled to start at 9:20 a.m. Sunday with a parade followed by an event behind City Hall starting at 10 a.m.
Members of the Royal Canadian Legion, the 2806 Pointe-Claire Cadet Corps, the 690 Lakeshore Air Cadet Squadron, the 830 Pierrefonds Air Cadet Squadron, Scouts and Guides, and the Pointe-Claire Volunteer Rescue Unit will take part in the parade, which will include a brass band.
With files from Claire Loewen and Simon Nakonechny