Some legions are holding small, invite-only ceremonies and trying to stream their event online. Other legions are cancelling services while others are waiting to see what the gathering size restrictions will be in Manitoba on Nov. 11.
Outdoor ceremonies will also be a no-go this year.
“Legions have been asked not to do (outdoor ceremonies) out of crowd control,” Royal Canadian Legion Manitoba & Northwestern Ontario Command honourary treasurer Rick Bennett said.
The City of Winnipeg normally hosts a large ceremony at the RBC Convention Centre. Bennetts says they were considering doing a smaller ceremony at the Manitoba Legislature this year, but now those plans are also up in the air.
“It was scheduled to be at the Legislature building with 50 invited guests, but that was before the rules got changed,” Bennett said.
The current gathering size restriction in the Winnipeg metropolitan area for both indoor and outdoor gatherings is no more than five people.
He also says COVID-19 has both legions and poppy campaigns struggling.
“They’re all hurting pretty good right now. Lack of revenue but their expenses are staying the same,” Bennett said.
West Kildonan Legion Branch 30 on Main Street is downsizing their ceremony from hundreds to just a handful of people, and they’re hoping to stream the service online or post it on their social media pages afterwards.
“We have a big hall upstairs that we would normally fill, it would be standing-room-only. This year it will be a very impromptu service,” West Kildonan Legion Branch 30 president Stephane Guindon said.
The West Kildonan legion is holding a fundraiser through GoFundMe, where people can donate and have a poppy placed on the Wall of Remembrance inside the legion.
Legion members also would normally do services for seniors inside personal care homes, but that won’t be the case this year.
“I think a lot of people, especially the veterans and the older people, look forward to us coming out, but it’s going to make it pretty tough on them this year,” Legion member Robert Watling said. “Even with the poppy campaign –everything has slowed down almost to a stop, which is not very good. It’s not good for the club and not good for the vets.”
The Legion is encouraging the public to wear a poppy, donate if they can, and pay their respects on Nov. 11, even if you can’t physically attend a ceremony.
But most importantly, they’re urging you to remember.
“The biggest thing is wearing a poppy and showing that you remember, showing that you won’t forget,” Guindon said. “That’s what we’ve been saying for decades — Lest we Forget.”
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