The Remembrance Day ceremony will be a little different in Fort McMurray.
Millions of people across the world recognize those who served and currently serve their country every November 11, however, the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing communities to change their usual routines.
This is no different in town as the annual ceremony at MacDonald Island Park won’t be happening with the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 165 instead holding one outside of their building in Waterways.
In previous years, both locations would hold separate ceremonies.
Branch President Pat Duggan tells Mix News they’re only able to allow 200 hundred people to view the event in-person.
“I know some people talk about the numbers being high here but it’s still quite manageable compared to a lot of other places… because of that, because we don’t have as much provincial restrictions as say in Ontario or Quebec or some of the Maritimes we are able to provide an actual proper service.”
It will be live-streamed to ensure those who want to watch the ceremony can do so safely at home.
Duggan adds MacDonald Island is also setting up some chairs for residents to view the stream.
“They’re providing two field houses with 100 sets of chairs and they plan on showing the stream, so for people who want to congregate together as a group and still honour present serving members and past serving members.”
The ceremony itself won’t be changing, however, there will be less participation.
Local cadets won’t be taking part as the Department of National Defence has restricted their participation across the country due to the pandemic.
“The RCMP, fire department, bylaw, sheriffs – they’re all supplying 10 people for the march past so it won’t be like the larger uniformed groups we’ve seen before,” added Duggan.
Those who attend will be encouraged to wear a mask, while not mandatory, and properly physical distance themselves and their cohorts from others.
The ceremony gets underway at 10 a.m. on November 11.
You can once again get a poppy to show your support for local veterans.
The annual campaign starts on the last Friday of October and runs until Remembrance Day.
“All the funds raised here are only spent on veterans here, there’s the odd time where we’ve had donations with the blessings of the local membership,” said Duggan.
The Legion isn’t setting a goal, noting they’re happy to receive as much as they can. In previous years, they’ve seen donations range between $48,000 to $78,000.
Duggan says they’re still hoping for a little more than previous years as they’ve seen an uptick in calls for support from local veterans.
“Not all of it is financial, the majority of it is getting them into communication with veterans affairs, other assistance groups, or putting them in touch with mental health work as well.”
The funds raised would help pay for some of these programs, while also supporting initiatives such as getting local veterans off the streets.
If you want to wear a poppy, you can find them in various locations around Wood Buffalo, including the mall, banks, and grocery stores.