Nova Scotia

Remembering from home: how COVID-19 is changing plans for Nov. 11

In a notable year for wartime anniversaries, the Royal Canadian Legion in Nova Scotia says it has no choice but to ask everyone to stay home on Remembrance Day.

Remembrance Day ceremonies to be invite-only in Nova Scotia

People who wish to do so are being asked to lay wreaths and poppies once Remembrance Day ceremonies are over, in keeping with social-distancing guidelines. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

In a notable year for wartime anniversaries, the Royal Canadian Legion in Nova Scotia says it has no choice but to ask everyone to stay home on Remembrance Day.

The usual packed ceremonies will be limited to invite-only guest lists with fewer than 50 people.

"It's hard — it's really hard — but I want people to be safe," said Marion Fryday-Cook, president of the Nova Scotia-Nunavut command of the legion.

"We're asking the public to stay home and have a moment of silence at the end of their driveway."

Marion Fryday-Cook says she never imagined she'd have to tell people to stay home on Remembrance Day. But she's hoping families will have a moment of silence at the end of their driveways. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

There will be no marches, no bands, no cadets, and most of the wreaths will be laid in advance, but people can watch the services online or on TV.

"Anybody who wants to come ... lay a poppy or a wreath themselves is welcome to do so, but after we're gone," said Fryday-Cook.

Protecting the WW II vets

This year marks the 80th anniversary for the Battle of Britain, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands, as well as the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

The Centennial Legion in Dartmouth usually hosts 1,000 people at its ceremony at Cole Harbour Place. Retired master warrant officer Joanne Geddes said their guest list will be limited to just 35.

Even five Second World War veterans who are members of the legion are being asked to stay home this year.

"We hope to do something for them at their residences, but I don't think we're going to ask them out because they are very vulnerable," said Geddes.

Thousands of people typically fill Grand Parade in Halifax for Remembrance Day. This year, just 50 will be invited to attend. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Geddes said she hopes the tough circumstances will put an even bigger spotlight on veterans in the country and the importance of Remembrance Day.

"We're struggling how to provide for our veterans in need," she said. "Right now with the pandemic — between social isolation, physical restraints — it's very hard to get out there and reach all of them."

Poppy program going ahead

Veterans are typically seen in the weeks leading up to Nov. 11 at poppy booths in community stores. It's the most important fundraiser for veterans programs.

But this year, most poppy baskets will be unmanned with veterans putting their faith in the honour system.

The Royal Canadian Legion in Nova Scotia won't have volunteers manning their poppy trays this year. Instead, it will depend on the honour system. (CBC)

Fryday-Cook said she's confident people will still contribute.

"Who would take from a veteran?"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca

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