A retired RCMP officer and current Kelowna, B.C., resident said a local Remembrance Day service crashed by anti-vaccine mandate protesters on Thursday made for a “very disturbing day.”
The Kelowna Legion had opted to not hold an official Remembrance Day ceremony this year but there were a few moments to mark the event, including a bugler and bagpipe player.
Larry Burnett said he still wanted to go to the cenotaph to lay his poppy in remembrance of those who fought, died and are still fighting for Canada’s freedom.
“As we got to the park, I was with my daughter, and I said to her, ‘Look at this, this is amazing. Look at all the people gathering out here, this is great to see’,” Burnett told Global News.
“We got to the cenotaph, I put my poppy down for a friend of mine and we were just going to leave but I said to my daughter ‘it’s five minutes before 11 o’clock, let’s just hang out here and let’s do the moment of silence and hear the prayer and the benediction.”
He said that’s when he noticed a group setting up a microphone and speaker.
The informal Nov. 11 service went from solemn to chaotic in a matter of seconds, when a woman — part of a group pushing anti-COVID-19 health mandate sentiments — used a public-address system to talk about “cognitive dissonance” and her belief that freedoms are being stepped on.
Burnett said he was standing beside a man holding a small camera on a tripod and a woman came up to him and said “you’re recording this right?” When he said yes, Burnett said the woman responded “good, this is going to be big.”
Burnett said he thought the woman was going to speak about Remembrance Day but she started talking about COVID measures and arguing that the City of Kelowna had let everyone down.
“It was honest-to-God, garbage crap,” he said.
“This was a complete set-up. These people knew what they were doing from day one. They premeditated it, they thought about it, they planned it. They knew well in advance what they were doing.”
Burnett said he was in the RCMP for 30 years, but had never seen anything like it.
“I’ve seen the best of people and I’ve seen the worst. But boy, I’ll tell you what, these people have put a new definition on what the worst really does look like,” Burnett said.
“That was the most disgraceful display of whatever it was.”
Kelowna Mounties are seeking input from the public as they investigate the disruption at the ceremony at the cenotaph.
Anyone who captured the disruption or the events leading up to it on video are asked to upload a video or send a link to the video using the following email proxy: KelownaRememberanceDayVideos@rcmp-grc.gc.ca
The people who caused the disruption at the ceremony have not yet been identified.
The Kelowna RCMP said they will be fully investigating to determine what offence, criminal or otherwise, may have been committed and will follow through with submission of charges or fines as appropriate.
— with files from Kathy Michaels
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