November 11, 2017 3:42 pm
Updated: November 11, 2017 7:32 pm

Montrealers mark Remembrance Day with ceremony at Place du Canada

WATCH ABOVE:Many Montrealers took pause Saturday morning to give thanks to the men and women who have fought and died for our freedom. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, it was a chance for both young and old to gather and pay their respects.

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Veterans, public figures and citizens gathered in downtown Montreal on Saturday morning to take part in the annual Remembrance Day ceremony at Place du Canada.

The ceremony began an official welcome and a 21-gun salute at 11 a.m.

A special welcome was extended to officers and crew of the French frigate, Forbin.

The frigate made its way from Norfolk, Virginia earlier this week, where it was taking part in military exercises alongside Mexican, American and Canadian ships.

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In an interview with the Canadian Press on Friday, ship Captain Tomas Fraioli said 60 crew members would be taking part in Saturday’s event to shine a light on the longstanding collaboration between Canada and France.

He also mentioned the importance of Nov. 11 celebrations in France, noting that year after year, the Hexagon remembers the sacrifices of Canadians during the First World War.

READ MORE: Millions observe Armistice Day in Britain, France

Following the 21-gun salute, several dignitaries and veterans placed wreaths at the foot at the cenotaph to honour the memory of fallen soldiers.

Among them were outgoing Mayor Denis Coderre and Mayor-Elect Valérie Plante, who together placed a wreath to pay their respects.

It was one of Coderre’s last official duties as mayor of the city.

READ MORE: Veterans say Canadian Legion no longer represents them enough

WATCH ABOVE: Montreal veterans honoured for bravery at Remembrance Day ceremony  

The ceremony at Place du Canada was one of many happening in around the city. For Sgt. Brangwyn Jones, remembering is the key to a better future.

“The future, of course, comes from our past,” he said.

“Remembrance Day is a great time to bring everybody together and take a while and think about what has happened so we can fix the future and make things better.”

Jones, a former Montrealer now living in Calgary, made the trip home to pay a visit to the Laurentian Regional High School in Lachute on Friday — his tenth year doing so.

“They put on a great ceremony, usually on or around Remembrance Day, and I was there yesterday.”

READ MORE: John Abbott College in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue honours war veterans

What he saw at the school gave him reason to hope.

“One thing I noticed when I was in Lachute yesterday is the fact that the that young students were doing an amazing job of story telling,” he said, adding that Remembrance Day is all about the stories.

“We have to tell our stories because otherwise our stories get lost and things get forgotten.”

For Amanda Brown, Remembrance Day is about showing respect. Her father served in Afghanistan and was injured after stepping on an improvised explosive device.

“I think a lot of people in modern-day Canada don’t understand the personal effect of war on communities, on people, on families, on those who’ve served — and I think it’s important to show respect for people who have made those sacrifices,” she said.

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Brown said her father was very fortunate, explaining that despite a severe leg injury, he didn’t loose any limbs.

And Like Jones, Brown hopes remembering will lead to a better understanding and a brighter future.

“It’s important to come together as a country to prevent any more violent conflict as far as we possibly can.”

For 88-year-old veteran, Graydon Fyckes, who served in Korea, remembering isn’t enough.

Graydon Fyckes, a Korean War veteran attends Remembrance Day ceremonies at Place du Canada in Montreal. Sunday, Nov. 11, 2017.

Phil Carpenter/Global News

“I lost my good friends there. I come to remember them. I came back and they didn’t, that bothered me,” Fyckes said.

READ MORE: Montreal special needs students sell poppy cupcakes to benefit veterans

His hope is that Remembrance Day will turn into something more.

“Maybe they’ll make this a holiday here,” he said. “Maybe this new mayor they got will make it a holiday.”

— With Files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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