Remembrance Day service in Vancouver draws thousands to Victory Square
Thousands of people gathered across British Columbia on Sunday for Remembrance Day ceremonies honouring the service and sacrifice of Canadian veterans.
In Vancouver, the largest event took place at Victory Square, where the assembled crowds spilled into the streets under clear and sunny skies.
This year, Remembrance Day marked the 100th anniversary of the First World War, and while no Canadian veterans remain from that conflict, the gravity of the occasion was clear to those assembled.
Sunday’s service began at 10 a.m. with a performance by the Vancouver Bach Youth Choir and Sarabande, followed by a combined performance by Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services and the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada who performed Sailing.
WATCH: Musical performance of Sailing
Every year, a young person writes and performs a poem for Vancouver’s service. This year’s poem, One Poppy Left, was read to the crowd by Christina Bedford, a grade six student from Immaculate Conception School in Vancouver.
WATCH: Vancouver sixth-grader Christina Bedford performs One Poppy Left
The Last Post was sounded at 11 a.m., followed by two minutes of silence and a 21-gun salute by the 15th Field Artillery Regiment at Portside Park.
Horn players sounded the Lament and Rouse, and the Royal Canadian Air Force performed a flyby with a CH24 Sea King helicopter from 443 Squadron in Patricia Bay and an Aurora CP41 long range surveillance aircraft from 407 Squadron RCAF 19 Wing Comox.
WATCH: Last Post, Lament and Rouse at Vancouver Remembrance Day ceremonies
Diane Street, whose son Pvt. Terry Street was killed in Afghanistan in 2008, laid a wreath as this year’s Silver Cross Mother.
“It is an honour, definitely, but it is a little bit of a sad moment obviously because you remember everybody that’s gone through this,” she said.
“It’s been quite an ordeal for many people, not only the people who didn’t survive, but the poor soldiers who came back without limbs, suffering from PTSD, there’s so many people affected, and families.”
Also laying a wreath this year was Markus McNeilly, who carried a photo of his grandfather Art Legett — taken decades ago at the very same cenotaph — with him.
McNeilly’s grandfather, who died in 2012, served in both the Korean War and WWII — a war he lied about his age to participate in.
McNeilly said before his grandfather passed, he promised the man that he would attend the service every year in his place.
“This was his day. He loved it. He would put his outfit on in October. He would make sure everything was ready to go, prim and proper,” McNeilly said.
“[He’d] be shining his shoes for days. There would be no dust on them but he would be shining them every single day to make sure there was no dust on them.”
WATCH: Vancouver pauses to honour the sacrifice of Canadian veterans on Remembrance Day
Dignitaries including new Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Justice Minister Judy Wilson-Raybould laid wreaths at the cenotaph.
The event in Vancouver was just one of dozens of ceremonies scheduled throughout the province.
In Victoria, hundreds of people including Deputy Premier Carol James, Victoria MP Murray Rankin and Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps gathered under clear skies at the provincial legislature grounds to mark the occasion.
Large crowds also turned in communities across the province, including Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford, Vernon and Kamloops.
WATCH: No Stone Left Alone Remembrance Day special
PHOTOS: Remembrance Day events around B.C.
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