The Senate normally ushers in Remembrance Week with a packed ceremony in the Red Chamber.
This year, the Speaker of the Senate and the Usher of the Black Rod are adapting how the Senate honours Canada’s veterans to the realities of the pandemic and to the new Senate of Canada Building, the Senate’s temporary home and Ottawa’s former train station.
Speaker of the Senate George J. Furey noted the temporary Red Chamber in the Senate of Canada Building was the platform soldiers used to depart for battle during both world wars.
“They walked, they stood with their families, they said goodbye to their loved ones here,” he said.
“And, upon returning from war, they met their loved ones on the floor of what is now the Senate Chamber.”
Ottawa’s former train station is seen in this undated overhead photo. (Photo credit: Library and Archives Canada)
Images of falling poppies will be projected on the columns of the west side of the Senate of Canada Building as part of the Virtual Poppy Drop. This light show runs from October 30 to November 11 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.; on November 11, the poppy drop will continue until midnight.
The Royal Canadian Legion launched the Virtual Poppy Drop in 2016 to project 117,000 poppies onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block. The poppies represent Canada’s fallen since the start of the First World War.
Unidentified members of the Royal Canadian Navy leave Ottawa’s Union Station on November 19, 1940. (Photo credit: Library and Archives Canada)
The poppy flag will also fly in front of the Senate of Canada Building until November 11, 2020.
Usher of the Black Rod J. Greg Peters and his team also co-ordinated the ceremonial raising of the poppy flag in front of the Senate of Canada Building. At 1 p.m. on November 2, the flag was raised on the ceremonial pole following an official poppy pinning ceremony with the Speaker.
Mr. Peters said it’s important to keep these initiatives alive to pay tribute to Canada’s veterans, especially at a time when most Remembrance Day ceremonies have been scaled down or cancelled due to the pandemic.
“It’s not something that you can shelve because of COVID-19, it’s something where you have to find a way to create an event that’s meaningful,” he said.
“These events have to take place. It’s part of our DNA as Canadians. I’m especially grateful for the dedication of the Legion and Veterans Affairs. Their strong support in these difficult times has allowed us to once more honour those who have so bravely served our country.”