Events to Honor Veterans in November Are Moving Online Due to COVID-19

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Popular ceremonies to commemorate veterans in Edmonton will air in November to encourage participants to stay home as Alberta battles a fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The organizers behind the memorial services at Beechmount Cemetery on November 4 and at the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph on November 11 will proceed as they did in 2020, streaming the events online.

Randall Purvis, marketing coordinator for No Stone Left Alone, a nonprofit that allows students to place poppies on veterans’ headstones, said the organization is scaling back its Beechmount Cemetery event Thursday morning.

“We are discouraging people from coming at that particular time,” he said.

Instead, the event will air on Facebook and the No Stone Left Alone website starting at 10:30 a.m., Purvis added. While the charity is also planning ceremonies at cemeteries around the city ​​and province In November, the organization hopes that members of the public can find time to safely honor the dead outside of these events.

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“We encourage you to go to the cemeteries and pay your respects as families, not large groups, for the respective COVID practices,” Purvis added.

The organization has identified more than 9,964 veterans’ headstones in and around Edmonton, and estimates that more are buried in private plots that have not been registered with Veteran Affairs Canada.

During the following week, on November 11, the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph Committee is also hosting a small ceremony at the monument at 40 Street and 118 Avenue in northeast Edmonton that will be closed to the public.

Joe Luce, who chairs the committee, said the event will not include the church service and parade seen in years past, and has been similarly shortened.

Before the pandemic, Luce said, Remembrance Day ceremonies at the cenotaph would attract hundreds of people. But this year, he added, the monument will be fenced off for a scaled-down 15-member ceremony to observe public health restrictions.

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TO event notice posted on Facebook says that the public will not be allowed to enter the venue during the ceremony, which will be online streaming starting at 10:20 am

“With COVID and Remembrance Day planning, it is normally not as stressful as it has been for the past two years,” Luce said, “And it’s hard for me to turn down people who want to attend.”

Master Petty Officer (Retired) Mark Desroches places his poppy at the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph after a Remembrance Day ceremony in Edmonton, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. Visitors and organizers followed COVID-19 health protocols and distanced themselves socially.  The ceremony was broadcast live and most were viewed from home.
Master Petty Officer (Retired) Mark Desroches places his poppy at the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph after a Remembrance Day ceremony in Edmonton, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. Visitors and organizers followed COVID-19 health protocols and distanced themselves socially. The ceremony was broadcast live and most were viewed from home. Photo by Ian Kucerak /Postmedia

Since 2020, the committee has also been trying to celebrate the centennial of the Beverly Memorial Cenotaph, an event that was postponed until October 2021 and then indefinitely due to the pandemic, Luce added.

“We are trying to keep everyone safe, and we will,” he said. “It’s just disappointing.”

The threat of COVID-19 also prompted the Royal Canadian Legion to cancel large indoor Remembrance Day ceremonies in Alberta, such as those previously held at the University of Alberta Butterdome in Edmonton and the Calgary Jubilee Auditorium.

A statement from the Legion Command for Alberta and the Northwest Territories said those meetings “simply pose too great a risk to the health and safety of our veterans and the public at this time.”

Rather, the legion encourages Albertans to observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on November 11 at home or somewhere safe to honor the sacrifices of Canadian veterans.

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Reference-edmontonjournal.com

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