For the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, residents of Saint John gathered at the TD Station for their annual Remembrance Day ceremonies. The time to reflect brought over 2,000 spectators to the stadium to honour those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
This year’s return brought forward new ways to respect veterans, with a moment of reflection for Indigenous people who went to war for Canada. This also marked the first time in Saint John that any ceremony has taken that vow on Remembrance Day.
New Brunswick’s former Lieutenant-Governor Graydon Nicholas and Honorary Colonel 3rd Field Regiment told Global News that honouring Indigenous veterans is an essential first step.
“As I stood there, I thought of all the veterans, the Indigenous veterans, in particular. I had an uncle who died in the Netherlands,” said Nicholas, who is from Tobique First Nation.
“It would be great for that recognition, and they could make a call ahead of time, and some veterans may come down.”
But when asked if it was something that organizers wanted to continue with and expand, organizers weren’t so sure that they would have the right space to honour those specific veterans.
“Yeah, we’ll look at it,” said Bernard Cormier, the event organizer and emcee.
“Take a little step at a time. The ceremony is a well-oiled machine and it’s a standard format, you can’t change that. So between the national anthem and the invocation, that doesn’t change; it stays the same. Everything else, we try to make it enjoyable for the public.”
For Nicholas, being asked to be a part of the ceremony was a humbling experience, having toured across the world.
“That’s why I was so grateful when I was being asked to be here. I said, ‘At least I’ll be an Indigenous face in this,’ and so it has been very emotional for me.”
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