Thousands gathered at the B.C. Legislature cenotaph to commemorate Victoria’s Remembrance Day ceremony Friday morning.
Belleville and Government streets were packed as people were allowed back at the cenotaph for the first time in two years following COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s nice to see the support from the local community,” said Rear Admiral Chris Robinson, commander with Maritime Forces Pacific.
“It always means so much to those of us who have served as we try an honour those who went before us and in many cases made the ultimate sacrifice.”
The ceremony started just before 11 a.m. with a five-plane flyover and a procession featuring a band marching with the colour guard. A 21-gun salute echoed throughout the ceremony.
At the eleventh hour, there was a moment of silence where the crowd was asked to pay their respects to Canada’s fallen soldiers and reflect on the purpose of their sacrifice.
Angus Stanfield, chairman of the Victoria Poppy Fund, said the emotions and feelings were overwhelming this year.
“You could sense the emotion,” he said. “For that many people to be that quiet and sombre, it’s a meaningful day.”
Victoria mayor Marianne Alto told CHEK News that parts of the ceremony also made her emotional, as she thought about her father who was involved with multiple conflicts with the Royal Canadian Airforce.
“The singing, the reflections, the band and even, to a certain extent, the very startling use of the military guns. It really gives you a fleeting image of what it would be like in that kind of conflict,” Alto said.
Eight wreaths were laid at the foot of the cenotaph this year, with representatives from both the provincial and federal governments, the City of Victoria, veterans, and several military groups presenting them.
Alto said Remembrance Day is especially important for the capital city because of the military presence in the area, specifically the Navy Base in Esquimalt.
“I think it really provides a day-to-day sort of awareness of what the military does and how they contribute to the community broadly, as well as the service as they act abroad,” she added.
Stanfield said veterans and military personnel appreciated the support at the cenotaph this year, adding that residents should always remember fallen and fighting soldiers.
“Lest we forget,” Stanfield said.