HALIFAX — Most towns and cities in Atlantic Canada returned to in-person Remembrance Day ceremonies this year — a marked change from 2020, when strict limits were placed on public participation at local cenotaphs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Halifax, hundreds turned out in brilliant sunshine on Thursday. Those in attendance were required to show proof of vaccination in order to enter the Grand Parade, which hosts the city's main Remembrance Day event every year.
The gathering was in sharp contrast to last year's ceremony, when only those who received an invitation could attend. A number of veterans were on hand Thursday, along with dignitaries including Nova Scotia Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.
David Porter of the Royal Canadian Naval Association said in an interview, "This year things are cooling down a bit so they can have a few more people."
Porter, who served 29 years in the Royal Canadian Navy, said he was happy to see young faces at the ceremony. "I'm glad to see young people are coming out, as you can see by looking around here," he said.
Savage said the gathering was a reflection of the importance of the holiday in a city with a strong connection to the military.
"To see this many people come out … I think speaks volumes," Savage said in an interview.
During the ceremony, Memorial Cross of Canada recipient Natasha Mohr laid a wreath at the cenotaph in honour of her husband, Petty Officer 1st Class Richard Mohr. The 22-year naval veteran died in 2008 of an illness attributed to his service in the Persian Gulf war.
Halifax residents Tanuja Awasthi-Singh and Raman Singh were in the crowd and said they were attending their first Remembrance Day ceremony.
"We are recent Canadian citizens, so, it was all the more special for us to be here," Awasthi-Singh said in an interview. "Seeing all the people who have come out, even after all that's been happening with COVID — it was just great."
Meanwhile, in St. John's, N.L., a smaller ceremony was held in the rain at that province's National War Memorial. Premier Andrew Furey was among the dignitaries in attendance.
A scaled-down ceremony was also held in Charlottetown. In a statement Thursday, P.E.I. Premier Dennis King encouraged all Islanders to take the time to mark the day. King said ceremonies, whether held virtually or in person, should help remind people of the "horrors of war."
"We must all stand together — united — against hate and violence, and work together to build a more peaceful world," the premier said.
New Brunswick marked the day with a series of indoor and outdoor events held under COVID-19 protocols.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 11, 2021.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press