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Remembrance Day ceremonies in Tofino and Ucluelet

Tofino and Ucluelet will gather in sombre reflection at their towns’ cenotaphs
Ucluelet ANAF president Bronwyn Kelleher pins a poppy on mayor Marilyn McEwen as both Ucluelet and Tofino prepare to honour the sacrifices made by those who served at Remembrance Day ceremonies at both the ANAF and the Tofino Legion on Nov. 11. (Andrew Bailey photo)

‘Lest we forget.’

Tofino and Ucluelet will gather in sombre reflection at their towns’ cenotaphs on November 11 to show respect and gratitude for the heroes who fought for their freedom.

Tofino’s ceremony will begin at the Tofino Legion, 331 Main Street, at 10:45 a.m.

Ucluelet’s ceremony will be held at the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans Club, 1708 Peninsula Road, with a parade leaving the Fire Hall at 10:45 a.m. and arriving at the cenotaph at 11 a.m.

The ceremonies will be followed by refreshments inside the Legion and ANAF.

Tofino and Ucluelet had historically shared one Remembrance Day ceremony, alternating hosting each year, but mutually agreed to hold separate ceremonies in 2017 due to the rapid growth of each community.

“The towns were both small and we had been cohesively together during the war effort, so it was an annual thing that would bring both towns back together to commemorate our collective effort on the West Coast but, as the towns have grown and evolved, there’s not enough space at either venue to house both communities at the same time,” ANAF president Bronwyn Kelleher told the Westerly News.

“We still work very well in conjunction with each other to organize everything. We have a great relationship with the Legion and we have parallel ceremonies that we coordinate together.”

Tofino Legion poppy chairman Jessica Harris told the Westerly that, along with significantly rising attendances at each towns’ ceremonies, the number of wreaths being laid at both cenotaphs has grown from about 20 to over 200 collectively over the years.

Harris added she counted about 250 people at Tofino’s ceremony last year and that both Tofino and Ucluelet’s ceremonies are consistently well-attended.

“Remembrance Day is important because it is a time for all Canadians to pause and remember how and why we now get to live in the country that we live in. We take a moment on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour to pause, reflect and remember those who came before us and the ones who laid out the groundwork so we could have a country to live in,” Harris said.

“It’s a day for all Canadians to pause and come together and remember those who fought, those who served and those who ultimately gave their lives. It’s a moment for people to all come together for one purpose. It’s also important for us to continue on this tradition to teach our younger generations how it’s important to pause and reflect and have a moment of sombreness and gratefulness.”

Kelleher noted the West Coast had a large military presence during The Second World War with several buildings used during the war effort still present today.

“Remembrance Day is about honouring those that fought to bring us the freedom that we have now…This is something that we do for those who have served. This is not something that we do for ourselves. This is not something that we do for the people visiting here. This is a moment of remembrance of the past, of the communities’ efforts here,” she said.

“When the citizens of Ucluelet come out together to gather on Nov. 11, it is a showing of the longstanding tradition of community spirit that the West Coast communities have…It’s always well attended because this town has a lot of respect for its past, it has a lot of respect for its citizens and it is always willing to come together in moments of need. This is a moment that we need to remember the past and this town is very respectful in that aspect.”

Harris added that both communities have a deep respect for the importance of remembrance.

“We don’t have that many veterans, but people want to be a part of something that is for a greater good,” she said. “People here on the West Coast, at the heart and the core of their persons, are standing up and helping their communities because we are a bit isolated. It takes two hours to get to a Walmart from here, so I think with these smaller communities we gather more together and band together at these types of events because it means something to do something for the greater good.”

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Andrew Bailey

About the Author: Andrew Bailey

I arrived at the Westerly News as a reporter and photographer in January 2012.
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