How you can experience Remembrance Day 2021 in Calgary

Katelyn Norek walks among dozens of fellow St. Margaret School students laying poppies at the headstones of Canadian soldiers who fought and died in past wars at Calgary’s Burnsland Cemetery.

“I am very thankful for everything they have done for us,” said Norek, who is in Grade 9. “They put their lives out for us. Canada wouldn’t be what it is today without them. I am very grateful for all of them, for everything they have done.”

While the students had an opportunity Monday to honour the war dead in person, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic means some traditional ways of marking Remembrance Day in Calgary and area won’t be happening this year, while other ceremonies may not be open to the public or may have restrictions. Here are some of the ways you can mark the day:

The Military Museums

The Military Museums will hold a public outdoor ceremony but attendance requires proof of double COVID-19 vaccination. Guests of honour will begin arriving at 10 a.m., with the ceremony commencing just before 11 a.m.
For people unable to physically attend, a virtual service will be live streamed on the organization’s Facebook page starting at 10:20 a.m.
Veterans Food Bank of Calgary donations won’t be accepted at the Military Museums this year due to COVID.

The Field of Crosses

Field of Crosses is a five-acre visual tribute to the sacrifices made by the thousands of soldiers from southern Alberta that’s installed every November. The crosses are placed in military cemetery formation by hundreds of volunteers, on a piece of highly visible land along Memorial Drive.

The Field of Crosses is open to the public daily up to and including Nov. 10, and there are daily sunrise and sunset ceremonies at set times. While there’s a sunrise ceremony on Nov. 10, the park closes at 9 a.m. and won’t reopen until 4 p.m. as volunteers place candles in front of each of the 3,500 crosses for a special Night of Lights.

The Remembrance Day ceremony itself at the Field of Crosses will not be open to the public this year due to COVID public health concerns. The ceremony, which gets under way at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, is limited to invited guests only, but everyone else can tune into the live stream.

The park will be closed to the public on Remembrance Day until 2 p.m., with security to enforce it. 

Royal Canadian Legion 

Select branches of the Legion will hold in-person ceremonies but the traditional event at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium is on pause this year.

Other nearby virtual ceremonies

The following ceremonies will be available through a live stream only:

National Remembrance Day Ceremony

Each year on Nov. 11, the Royal Canadian Legion hosts the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa starting at 10:45 a.m. ET/8:45 a.m. MT.

CBC News will carry the ceremony live via, the CBC News Facebook page, CBC TV, CBC News Network, CBC Gem and the CBC News app.

Katelyn Norek, a Grade 9 student from Calgary’s St. Margaret school, attended a Remembrance Day ceremony at Burnsland Cemetery on Monday. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Meanwhile, the students visiting Burnsland Cemetery on Monday found it an emotional experience.

“I think it’s good that we come and experience this for ourselves, and get a feel for what it was like, and be a part of it,” Norek said.
Another student, Sofia Guerrero, noticed the ages on the headstones.
“I think it was a very beautiful ceremony. Everyone should take this day to remember everyone who served for Canada, and who helped us be who we are today,” the 14-year-old told reporters on Monday.
“Some of these ages, obviously, it pains me to see how young they were, because they deserved to live and enjoy life a little bit more.”

Sofia Guerrero attended a Remembrance Day ceremony at the Burnsland Cemetery on Monday. She’s a student at Calgary’s St. Margaret school. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

Student Simon Thomas says the event really makes him ponder. 

“I am thinking about what people have done for our country and just the heart and mindset we have to go into to pay respects to these people and what they have done for us,” he said.
“I think they are very brave people. It’s sad to see people not much older than me go to war and maybe not come back. We still need to honour them and pay our respects.”

John Melbourne was an air force pilot between 1953 and 1964 working primarily in search and rescue operations. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

John Melbourne, who was an air force pilot between 1953 and 1964 working primarily in search and rescue operations, partook in the event with the students.

“This is wonderful,” he said.
“This gives the young people an opportunity to appreciate the number of Canadians who were also their age, who gave their lives over the years in the various conflicts that Canada has been involved in. It does my heart good to see these young people laying a poppy on a veteran’s grave. I am very honoured to be a part of this.”

Students from Calgary’s St. Margaret School lay poppies at the headstones of fallen southern Alberta soldiers, at an event Monday at Burnsland Cemetery. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

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