While there will be no massive ceremony this year for Remembrance Day, Yukoners can still mark the day with an online ceremony that will be broadcast over social media and cable television on Nov. 11.
Joe Mewett, president of the Whitehorse Legion Branch 254, said despite the lack of an in-person ceremony this year, there are still lots of ways to pay tribute to veterans.
“There’s nothing in the rulebook that says you have to do it this one way, right?” he said. “There will be people down at the Cenotaph downtown, in Veterans Square, at 11 o’clock on the 11th just to do their own quiet thing. There’s always people to do that.”
He said others may choose to tune into the broadcast from home, or take their own time for a moment of silence on the front porch or at the office.
“It’s whatever works for you, (that) is the big thing. If you want to sit down and talk to your kids on your couch and say, ‘Hey, this is what it’s all about,’ go for it. Whatever works for you,” he said.
The invitation-only ceremony will take place at the Yukon Arts Centre, which will allow it to be broadcast online and on television. The ceremony will begin at 10:45 a.m. and will last around 30 minutes.
|Several hundred people showed up for the Remembrance Day ceremony at the Canada Games Centre in Whitehorse on Nov. 11, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)|
A small gathering at the Legion will take place afterwards.
Despite being smaller, and without an audience, Mewett said the ceremony will still include the colour party bearing flags. Local members from the military, RCMP, the Rangers, corrections officers and EMS will all be carrying flags as part of the stage ceremony.
Second World War veteran Joseph Novak will also be in attendance, and a small number of guests and dignitaries have been invited to attend as well.
Mewett said in addition to honouring the memories of First World War, Second World War and Korean War veterans, Remembrance Day is also a day to honour all the younger veterans and their families who have served in the military since then. He said many find community and support at the legion.
“Veterans are not almost all gone. People don’t always understand that. So that’s one of the things we’re trying to get across as well,” he said.
Smaller ceremonies, many personal, have been taking place in the lead-up to Nov. 11.
On Oct. 30 the Legion hosted the First Poppy presentation, which begins the annual poppy campaign. The poppy flag was raised and a wreath was laid. During the ceremony, Novak was given a quilt from the Quilts of Valour project made by Whitehorse resident Lee Pugh.
Nov. 8 marked National Aboriginal Veterans Day, with speeches the next day in the legislature honouring the contributions of both Indigenous veterans and Indigenous communities in the Yukon that contributed from the homefront during foreign wars.
Alex Van Bibber, a WWII veteran who passed away in 2014 and was from the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations was recognized in the House. After the war, he returned to the Yukon but lost his official Indian status because of his service. Chief Elijah Smith, instrumental in the creation of Together for Our Children Tomorrow, was also a WWII veteran.
The homefront contributions of the Vuntut Gwitchin people, who raised money for overseas efforts were also recognized.
“After witnessing the horrors of war, many [Indigenous veterans] who survived came home to a country that did not see them as equal citizens,” said Minister Jeanie McLean.
On Nov. 2 Tara Klippert laid a white rose at the cenotaph and took a minute of silence in honour of a Canadian First World War nurse and amputee. Klippert has been laying wreaths in Whitehorse for the past seven years as a regional representative for the territories for the War Amps.
As a partial left-hand amputee from birth, Klippert is involved to recognize the founders of the organization and its roots in the history of the First World War and Second World War.
This year, Klippert chose to recognize Madeleine Jaffray, a Red Cross nurse who was from Galt, Ont. Jaffray was injured in Adinkerke, Belgium and eventually had her foot amputated. After the war, she continued in nursing and became the War Amps only female member.
“It’s not often you hear about the brave women who went over to the war and put themselves at risk. I just think she was a really brave woman and later, saw her amputation as an opportunity to do a lot of the sort of foundational work that I am still benefiting from today,” she said.
|Crystal Schick/Yukon News
Master Cpl. Averlene Bachhuber stands motionless as honour guards behind her switch positions around the cenotaph at Porter Creek Secondary’s Remembrance Day ceremony in Whitehorse on Nov. 7, 2019. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Normally Klippert would lay a wreath at the annual Remembrance Day ceremony. This year she laid the rose in a more private ceremony due to COVID-19.
“I have to admit that what I did this year felt a lot more personal and meaningful, just because it was just me, and I didn’t have a whole audience looking at me. It just gave me more time,” she said.
“I hope others do something similar. I have noticed a couple other wreaths out there and some flowers as well, other than mine. So I’m sure people find a way to remember,” Klippert said.
The ceremony will be broadcast live on the Legion’s Facebook page.
It will also be broadcast on Northwestel community channel 209.
Contact Haley Ritchie at firstname.lastname@example.org