Hundreds turned out to Nanaimo’s Remembrance Day commemorations as organizers held the city’s first full parade and ceremony in three years.
Only this year, the day took on new significance as war rages on in Ukraine, and Canadian soldiers are deployed in NATO countries near that country’s border.
For 24 hours prior to Friday’s ceremony, air, army, and sea cadets took turns maintaining a vigil around the downtown cenotaph.
“I’ve seen many cadet units across Canada doing it, so I thought it would be a great experience for the cadets here to do it as well. But here, really, the focus is to honour our vets, honour our fallen who have given us our freedoms we have to be able to do these types of things,” said Cpt. David Ruel with the 205 Collishaw Air Cadets.
Taking part for the first time was sea cadet Stacey Del Mundo, who says standing guard gave her time to reflect on what we have in Canada.
“It’s unfortunate other countries can’t experience the same kind of peace, but I’m very thankful and very fortunate that in Canada we have this peace and freedom,” Del Mundo told CHEK News.
This year’s ceremony began with precision and formality as those in Nanaimo reflected on those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in war.
Once again this year, WWII vet Victor Osbourne was in attendance and celebrating a milestone — his 104th birthday.
“It’s been three years since we’ve been able to have the full ceremonies, so I’m really quite happy that it went off without a hitch and mother nature spared us the rain that was being predicted. So I think it went well,” said Lewis Forth, president of the Canadian Royal Legion Branch 256.
With the war ongoing in Ukraine, the ceremony today took on added meaning for some of those attending, as friends and colleagues do NATO tours in bordering European countries.
“It’s important to remember the soldiers who fought before us but also the soldiers who fight now. Even people who don’t deploy but help defend the country in the country,” said Cpl. John Scarisbrick of the Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Mary’s).
“I lost a lot of good friends not just in conflict, but when they get home they fall through the cracks. PTSD was through the roof,” added Sgt. Greyden Gamble, also with the Canadian Scottish Regiment.
Both Scarisbrick and Gamble say Canadians are very fortunate to have the peace they have as the cost of war continues to be felt in new ways.