By Bryen Dunn
Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on those who so bravely gave their time, and sometimes their lives, toward achieving global freedom for all. This year, most Remembrance Day events are virtual or by invite only to veterans. There’s also a new initiative being launched in York Region to ensure every veteran is recognized, and a new stamp honouring the 100th anniversary of the poppy being used as a symbol of remembrance here in Canada.
York Region will be participating in the No Stone Left Alone trial project for the first time. The program was founded by Maureen Bianchini Purvis in Alberta in 2011, partially initiated by her daughters, and in remembrance of her mother who served in WWII. The goal is to ensure each and every veteran is not forgotten. The project will include decorating the graves of veterans in several of the cemeteries in Richmond Hill and Thornhill.
Here in York, the project is being spearheaded by Ross Toms, Treasurer & Branch Historian, Branch 375, who brought forth a proposal to Richmond Hill City Council earlier this year requesting ‘missing’ names be added to the Cenotaph plaques, which he estimates to be around 15 to 20 individuals. The proposal was passed by a unanimous motion to move this project forward.
Here’s how you can remember our veterans this year across the region.
Watch the City’s pre-recorded Remembrance event on their YouTube channel, with remarks from Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua and Members of Council. Vaughan’s Forgotten Heroes virtual exhibit showcases personal war artifacts, such as letters and photographs, including those from local residents. Participants will gain an understanding of the wartime experiences of historically marginalized individuals and groups. Citizens can also share their poems, stories, photos, and memories to the community-driven virtual exhibit, Stories of Remembrance.
Throughout the month of November, the community is invited to leave a message of remembrance in the City’s virtual Book of Remembrance. During Remembrance Week, November 6-13, individuals are also invited to visit Markham’s memorial sites at Veteran’s Square and Cenotaph in Markham Village, and Crosby Memorial Cenotaph in Unionville, to place a poppy and pay respect. Watch Markham’s virtual Remembrance Day video here on November 11.
Markham Arts Council (MAC) is hosting a Remembrance Day art contest. Post your artwork on Instagram using the hashtag #LestWeForget21, and include a statement explaining your concept. Follow MAC to be entered, and the winner will have their work featured on MAC’s social media channels, along with a donation made to the Markham Veterans Association in their name. Citizens can also leave a message in the city’s virtual Book of Remembrance. There will also be a scaled-down service Nov. 11 at the Unionville Cenotaph in front of Crosby Arena.
Remembrance Day services are being held at various locations in and around King Township on November 11, by invite only for veterans.
A ceremony is being held at the Cenotaph, by invitation only for about 50 guests, which is followed by lunch at Branch 375.
There is a service at the Cenotaph, by invite only to veterans and immediate family members.
The public is invited to attend the Remembrance Day ceremony on November 11 at the Civic Centre, in front of the Cenotaph. It will also be live-streamed on the Town’s YouTube Channel.
In person Remembrance Day ceremonies are happening in Georgina, and the public are welcome to attend, but must wear a mask and maintain physical distance.
Nov. 11, 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. — Keswick Cenotaph Park, 201 Church St., Keswick’
Nov. 11, 10:45 to 11:45 a.m. — Sutton Cenotaph Park, at the corner of High and Burke street.
Finally, Canada Post has released a special commemorative stamp this year to recognize the 100th anniversary of the poppy being used as a symbol of remembrance for the service of veterans here in Canada.
Lest We Forget our World War I and World War II veterans, along with those who served in other military action for the freedom of others.
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on adventure, ecotourism, lifestyle, entertainment, and hospitality. He contributes to several industry and consumer publications, and also has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews.