Remembrance Day is different this year. Here’s how Canadians are commemorating

Click to play video: 'Finding ways to honour Canada’s veterans amid the pandemic'
Finding ways to honour Canada’s veterans amid the pandemic
WATCH: Finding ways to Canada’s honour veterans amid the pandemic. Caryn Lieberman reports – Nov 10, 2020

With the advent of the novel coronavirus, many Canadians have been forced to re-evaluate the way they celebrate and commemorate past people, places and events.

Remembrance Day will be different this year, but that doesn’t mean Canadians can’t participate.

For most of the country, gone are the days of handing out poppies in shopping centres or on the street. Most Remembrance Day parades and activities have been cancelled, and the annual Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa — where roughly 30,000 Canadians have congregated in past years — at the National War Memorial will still take place, but it is not open to the public.

Read more: Remembrance Day planners scrambling as coronavirus limits traditional ceremonies

Global News will be providing live coverage of the National War Memorial ceremony and observing a moment of social media silence at 11 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

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“Canadians would normally gather at cenotaphs across the country to pay tribute to those who fought for our freedom,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement Tuesday.

However, he said, “COVID-19 means many ceremonies are online, many veterans are staying at home, and too many of the legions that provide support for them are facing tough times themselves.”

“Our veterans served Canada with honour and valour — they stepped up for us and now we must step up for them.”

Click to play video: 'More than 200K Remembrance Day masks across Canada sold to raise funds'
More than 200K Remembrance Day masks across Canada sold to raise funds

The Victory Square ceremony in Vancouver will not be cancelled, but has been pared down to a maximum gathering of 50 people and can be viewed online at 9:45 a.m.

Bob Underhill, vice-president of the The Royal Canadian Legion’s operations in B.C. and Yukon and head of the organizing committee, told Global News in a previous interview the legion was arranging for bands and soloists to perform virtually to discourage people from attending in-person.

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“We’re going to have our official wreath-laying at the site, but we’re going to try and minimize what we’re actually doing at the site so as to not attract attention and get people gathering because we’re under the 50-person maximum. It’s going to be very different,” he said.

The Royal Canadian Navy has organized a sail past of its ships along the Victoria, B.C. shoreline that began at 10:45 a.m.

Read more: Fewer Canadians plan to wear poppies this Remembrance Day, poll finds

Meanwhile, the Royal Canadian Air Force will also be conducting a series of fly-bys in Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and the Northwest Territories throughout the day, encouraging Canadians to observe vintage RCAF Wings aircrafts from a distance in accordance with public health guidelines.

The legion has also taken the extraordinary step of asking Canadians to skip traditional ceremonies and events.

“For the first time ever, we will be discouraging spectators from coming down to the National War Memorial,” Nujma Bond, the legion’s director of communications, said in a previous interview with Global News.

“It’s most definitely a shame this year that we’re all having to work within the constraints that this pandemic has brought.”

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The legion has pivoted, raising more than $200,000 by selling custom-made masks online, partnering with HSBC to create cashless donation boxes and has asked Canadians to pay tribute to the country’s fallen soldiers by tuning into their livestreams either online or from the television, wearing poppies and recognizing two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.

Canadians are also encouraged to buy a ‘digital poppy‘ online, that can be dedicated or shared on social media and decorated with personal stories and images.

On Sunday, Conservative Party leader Erin O’Toole asked Canadians to step out onto their doorsteps at 11 a.m. for a moment of silence.

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“#DoorStepRemembrance is a way for Canadians to come together while staying apart, and to show gratitude and respect for veterans,” he said in a tweet.

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