To mark the beginning of Remembrance Day events, Chilliwack mayor Ken Popove accepted a poppy off a hockey stick from Chilliwack Legion branch four president Sharon Churchill Thursday morning at the Vedder Cenetaph. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)

Chilliwack Remembrance Day ceremonies scaled back due to pandemic

There will be ceremonies at both cenetaphs, but with far less people attending than usual

Remembrance Day in Chilliwack will look drastically different this year.

Because of the pandemic, ceremonies on both sides of town are being scaled back.

“There’s no parade, and all the wreaths are going to be pre-laid early in the morning,” said Chilliwack Legion branch four president Sharon Churchill of the downtown event. “We’re walking to the cenetaph where we’ll have about 14 invited guests. We’ll have a bag-piper, Ken Nice, but we won’t have a band this year and it will all be fenced off to make sure everybody stays away.

“For everybody’s safety, we’re asking people to please stay home.”

Remembrance Day events downtown and at the Vedder Cenetaph (at Vedder and Keith Wilson Road) are usually well attended, and Churchill said it’s sad that things must be done this way.

READ MORE: Remembrance Day planners scrambling as COVID-19 upends traditional ceremonies

READ MORE: In photos, Remembrance Day ceremonies in Chilliwack

Veterans like 96-year-old Warner Hockin, who will be at the downtown ceremony, are vulnerable to COVID-19.For that same reason, 97-year-old Harold Thorpe and other elderly veterans are unable to attend.

“My dad was a veteran and I’m here because of him. I go every year no matter where I live, and I’ve lived all over Canada,” Churchill said. “Every year I always, always go to the parade whether there’s six feet of snow or whatever. So this just saddens me.

“But this is the way we’ve got to do it in our new and different world.”

Sadly, Churchill also noted there will be no baron of beef served afterwards at the downtown Legion.

“It’s usually wall-to-wall with people and we just can’t have that this year,” she said. “We don’t want to draw people in.”

The story is similar at the Vedder Legion branch 280, where a fraction of the usual crowd will attend the ceremony at the Vedder Cenetaph.

Branch operations manager Theresa Livingstone said they usually welcome 2000-plus people to the site on Remembrance Day.

“We will have 48 people in attendance for a small ceremony that will include veterans, a small colour party, a representative from the city, a Silver-Cross mother and a few others,” Livingstone confirmed. “And we will be live streaming the ceremony on our Facebook page.”

Like Churchill, she’s sad things are unfolding this way.

“It’s a really weird feeling, with people in disbelief and thinking, ‘What do you mean, I can’t go up and pay my respects?” she said. “Not being able to say thank-you to the people who gave us the country we have, it’s really hard.”

Local legions may also face a financial hit from reduced poppy sales, with veterans unable to set up shop safely in the community.

Businesses are offering to take poppy boxes and poppies/wreaths are being sold at both legions, so the shortfall might not be huge, but with funds from poppies helping veterans with housing and many other needs, any money will be missed.

“We’ll just have to hope that next year things are a lot better,” Churchill said.

All of that said, Churchill and Livingstone both urge Chilliwackians to take a moment around 11 a.m. on Nov. 11 to remember those who fought for our country, in whatever form that takes.

“If you’re living in a house or apartment, or you have a place of business, go out on your patio or front step and be proud,” Churchill requested. “Wear your poppy and just be happy and proud.”

“Take a moment, stop and say thank you for what we have,” Livingstone added. “And pray that the pandemic is over quick so we can get back to normal.”


@ProgressSports
eric.welsh@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Former Hope resident Jason Thomas Graff is set to be sentenced on charges of telecommunicating to lure a child and posession of child pornography at the Chilliwack Law Courts Jan. 28. (File photo)
Former Hope resident to be sentenced for child luring in Chilliwack court

Sentencing Jan. 28 at Chilliwack Law Courts following offences in Hope, Vancouver Island

A black-capped chickadee tolerates the 40 below zero weather. (File)
Harrison Christmas Bird Count taking flight

Local bird watchers help with worldwide bird tracking effort

RCMP don’t want to see you having your vehicle towed away after an aggressive driving infraction. (RCMP photo)
Chilliwack RCMP hand out more than 500 tickets in aggressive driving crackdown

Police say they’ll continue to focus on speeding, aggressive and distracted driving

Home sales for November in the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board were profitable for sellers because of historically low supply. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)
Historically low supply leads to higher prices in Chilliwack real estate market

City dwellers want to relocate to the eastern Fraser Valley and are willing to pay a high price

Prolific offender Jonathan David Olson (left) and Brodie Tyrel Robinson, both of Chilliwack, were convicted of several offences in BC Supreme Court in August 2019 in connection to a crime spree on the Canada Day long weekend in 2017.
Dangerous offender designation off the table for Chilliwack gangster

Jonathan Olson found guilty in connection with 2017 crime spree now facing 14 years maximum

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

Most Read