Getting Ready

As the new 'kid on the block', as it were, I'm finding the process needed to set up the Remembrance Day ceremonies very interesting. Despite having done event planning at various times in my life, I hadn't truly appreciated the number of restrictions there are in putting on the North Vancouver Remembrance Day Ceremonies.

What I thought

Perhaps naively, I had imagined it would be pretty much the same standard process every year. Of course, last year was the first time we engaged with live-streaming on YouTube. Finding audio and video specialists who would work with a not-for-profit organisation was something we hadn't done before. And we'd had to apply to the Ministry of Health for permission to hold a gathering. I'd also taken for granted that every group of participants, be they a band, choir, or marching unit, would know 'what to do'. And before 2020, I was pretty much spot on in my thinking.

What I've learned

Things are seldom what they seem. Veteran's Affairs, Canada, prescribe the format of every Remembrance Ceremony. The sequence repeated year after year, giving the ceremonies their dignity.

From both historical and modern-day conflicts, the Veterans choose to come - they need no invitation. They are always the backbone.

Then there are the various other participants, Pipe Band, Choir, Ceremonial marching band or unit, the members of the Canadian Armed Forces and the Police Officers who stand 'on guard', to name just a few.

There is the Chaplain whose words echo our collective thanks. The Parade Commander who runs the order of ceremony and maintains the precision.

The 39th Field Engineering Brigade, 6th Field Squadron, typically provide the Honour Guard at the Cenotaph. They also offer the JP Fell armouries for the after-parade luncheon venue. There is no luncheon this year quite simply because the gathering rules changed too late.

Let's not forget the members of BC Ambulance Service and the firefighters who stand by in case of need; some of them are veterans.

The Cenotaph

What about the Cenotaph?  Who looks after it? Who cleans the plaque that acknowledges purpose? Who takes care of the marble slabs that bear the names of our fallen citizens? Who cleans the site of leaves and other debris?

Since 2020 many of the answers to these questions have changed. Not every supporter is still willing to help due to constantly shifting health concerns due to Covid-19, other illnesses, ageing and retirement. Still, there is hope that those veterans of modern conflicts will someday step forward and take up the reins of stewardship for this event.

In the meantime

At a site survey on a rainy Thursday afternoon, I finally met several people from the City of North Vancouver.  I learned that they are the ones who make sure that the site is cleared and cleaned. They are also the people who make sure that there are stanchions, chairs, ropes, tents, porta-potties, extra policing, and barricades for the years when we march up Lonsdale Avenue. We sometimes even have risers, although not this year.

I had many questions and discovered that some of the answers would have to be re-discovered. It's not that they are lost to time, it's just that the who and how and when has been mislaid.

November 11th 2021, is a Thursday barely four weeks from today. I'm learning that things can and probably will change between now and then. On the day, we will have the best event possible for this year.

And next year will be the same, and yet different, again.

Joss Rowlands

Joss Rowlands

My grandfather died in World War I, when my mother was only 6-months old.  They never met. His service records were lost in a fire, although he was mentioned in Dispatches. I am the only relative in our family line who can stand for his memory.
The rest of the time, I'm a writer, coach, gardener, reader, knitter, grandmother, cat-mother, spouse and dabbler in all sorts of neuroscience.

North Shore Veterans’ Council Canada