Peter Chance, who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, will be among the 50 veterans participating during revised Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sidney owning to COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Peter Chance, who served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, will be among the 50 veterans participating during revised Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sidney owning to COVID-19. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

COVID-19 reduces public dimension of Remembrance Day commemorations

Coordinator Kenny Podmore hopes public will find nonetheless ways to mark occasion

If this were any other year, Peter Chance would likely be making the rounds at local schools, sharing with students his experiences during the Second World War as a member of the Royal Navy, serving in the Far East and European theatre on different ships.

But this is 2020 and COVID-19 continues to up-end the familiar, including Remembrance Day and all the activities leading up to it.

“I think it’s inevitable,” said Chance, who will turn 100 years old on Nov. 24, less than two weeks after Remembrance Day, when asked about the revised format for Remembrance Day.

“And it’s sad thing, because we always managed to get a big turnout for our ceremony, because after all, it is for our people, who didn’t come home. We will do our best with what we got.”

For 2020, it means an indoor ceremony at Mary Winspear Centre with 50 invited veterans including Chance. For coordinator Kenny Podmore of the Royal Canadian Legion Saanich Peninsula Branch #37, the restricted attendance means he had to make some tough choices. More broadly, it means that key familiar aspects of the ceremony won’t be happening, starting with the parade of active service personnel, as well as various veterans organizations and local cadet groups among others.

RELATED: PHOTOS: Hundreds gather in Sidney for Remembrance Day ceremony

“Consequently, there is no (public) wreath-laying ceremony at the cenotaph,” said Podmore, adding later that local dignitaries will lay their respective wreaths earlier that day. A trio of local Legion members will also lay wreaths.

People will be encouraged to lay their own wreath if they wish, and residents will also be able to share memories on a memory board to be displayed at the cenotaph, he added.

Ultimately, these changes mean that Remembrance Day and its spirit of commemoration will have a far less visible public component.

Nevertheless, Podmore is encouraging residents to stand outside their homes starting at about 10:58 to do their own two minutes of silence.

“We will still have — hopefully — the fly-pass at 11 a.m.,” he said. A second fly-pass featuring vintage planes is scheduled for later that morning.

Podmore also hopes that parents will encourage their children to make poppies for display in windows, while also educating them about the larger significance of Remembrance Day. That educational component is where the absence of Chance from local schools will be most felt.

“That is something else that we have lost, unfortunately,” said Podmore. “This time next year, God bless him, we don’t know Peter is going to be with us.”

Residents will be able to follow the proceedings inside the Mary Winspear Centre through a live-stream and the ceremony itself will be nearly identical to the familiar outdoor ceremony, said Podmore. There will be concessions to COVID-19 with social distancing, staggered arrival times and other measures.

Looking back, Podmore said he always expected that this year’s Remembrance Day ceremony would be different in light of changes to VE-Day commemorations.

“But I have to be honest and truthful. A part of me is also saying that it still might not happen. Things change dramatically.”

As well, cadets won’t be selling poppies this year, because of regulations from Legion command

The starting date of the poppy donation campaign (Oct. 30, which happens to be the last Friday in October, as per tradition) also limits the donation period.

“People, as we know, are perhaps going to be more generous this year,” he said.

Chance, for his part, has remained generous with his time. The honorary president of the local Legion branch has addressed local navy cadets through virtual means readily shares his memories of his service time, which among other places, took him to Iceland, albeit involuntarily after a storm had driven his vessel onto shore, killing 15 comrades.

Chance said he will miss the large crowds that have traditionally attended Remembrance Day.

“It was always important for us to remember those who didn’t come home, and it was our pleasure to take part in (Remembrance Day).”


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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

Just Posted

(Google Maps)
Sophisticated glass-removal crime returns to downtown Victoria

Several businesses on Fort Street targeted overnight, say police

Johnathan Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight charges including sex-related offences against children and accessing, possessing and making or publishing child pornography. (Courtesy of Saanich Police)
Sentencing date moved for Saanich nanny guilty of child porn charges

Johnathon Lee Robichaud pleaded guilty to eight sex offences against children

Patrick MacMullan won $28,000 playing Toto. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Greater Victoria man wins $28,000 while watching football

Winning ticket purchased at Colwood convenience store

(File - Sooke News Mirror)
Man exposes himself to woman, children on Sooke trail

Suspect believed to be between 55 and 65 years of age

Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the press theatre at the B.C. legislature for an update on COVID-19, Jan. 7, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 spread steady with 509 new cases Friday

Hospitalized and critical care cases decline, nine deaths

(Black Press Media file photo)
From arts to environment, nominate your West Shore hero

Nominations for the Goldstream Gazette’s Local Hero awards are open to Jan. 15

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Black Press media file
Port McNeill driver tells police he thought the pandemic meant no breathalyzers

Suspect facing criminal charges after breathalyzer readings in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Most Read