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Remembrance Day cenotaph services cancelled in Tofino and Ucluelet

“Hopefully this time next year we will be able to come together to remember.”
Ricardo Manmohan salutes the cenotaph alongside his sons Liam, Rhys and Ewan during Ucluelet’s 2018 Remembrance Day service. This year’s service has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Westerly file photo)

Officials behind Tofino’s Royal Canadian Legion Branch #65 and Ucluelet’s Army, Navy and Airforce Veterans Club Unit 293 (ANAF) will not be hosting a public Remembrance Day service this year.

“It is with great regret we have cancelled our annual Remembrance Day Parade, Services and Community Branch Luncheon. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic and safety measures in place from the Ministry of Health we do not want to encourage people to gather in large numbers which may increase the spread of this virus,” said Tofino Legion secretary Jess Harris.

ANAF vice president Bronwyn Kelleher re-iterates.

“It is unfortunate but completely understandable that there cannot be an in person Remembrance Day ceremony this year. Encouraging public gatherings is not what we are supposed to be doing right now. Vancouver Island has been lucky to have managed to keep its COVID-19 numbers low. Other parts of the country are not so lucky. To maintain solidarity with the rest of Canada, our national mandates must be applied to us all, which in this case is ceremonial gatherings. Hopefully this time next year we will be able to come together to remember why keeping the peace is so very important,” said Kelleher.

“Until then, I hope this November 11 everyone stops at 11:11 and takes their own moment alone to remember and pay tribute to those lost to war,” she went on to say.

For those individuals and businesses wishing to purchase wreaths by donation to the Poppy Campaign, Harris will be set-up at the Tofino Legion Main Hall on Saturday Nov. 7 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for wreath pick up and payment. Social distancing measures will be in place, Harris notes. West Coasters can also call Kelleher at 250-726-4217 to make a contribution to the Poppy Fund. All wreaths must be placed at the cenotaph prior to 11 a.m. on November 11, as the Legion Executive Color Party will be observing “moment of silence” and flag raising and lowering on the 11th, notes Harris.

Additionally, the Floathouse Restaurant in Ucluelet is providing a Prime Rib dinner by donation (for take-out only) on November 11 from 4p.m. to 8p.m. All proceeds will be donated to the Poppy Campaign, and the Prime Rib dinner is being prepared by volunteers and veterans. Retired Air Force vet Bruce Faith came to Floathouse with the idea for the fundraiser.

“It’s all coming together wonderfully. We had to do something. It’s a way to bring the community a little closer together, be safe and remember our veterans,” said Faith, adding that masks and social distancing will be mandatory for pick up. Floathouse chef Udo Lerch said the prep will take at least two days.

“It’s a prime rib steak dinner with mash potatoes and gravy, glazed carrots and a cup of award winning chowder. We are projecting 300 or 400 guests. It’s by donation, there is no set price,” said Lerch.

“Please join us in Ucluelet to support our Veterans and our community for this day of remembrance,” Harris said.

People can also switch on Tuff City Radio (90.1 FM in Tofino and 99.5 FM in Ucluelet) on Nov. 11 for a reduced version of the traditional Remembrance Day Service through music, stories and moments of silence.

“Lest We Forget. We will remember them,” Harris said.

Check the Westerly News’ Facebook page on Nov. 11 for coverage of the flag raising in Tofino.

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Nora O'Malley

About the Author: Nora O'Malley

Nora O'Malley studied journalism at Mount Royal University in Calgary.
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