St. Norbert Remembrance Day goes virtual

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/10/2020 (701 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The Remembrance Day ceremony in St. Norbert will be streamed online this year, thanks to the efforts of a St. Norbert couple and their many volunteers.

Wendy and Art Bloomfield, who have organized the ceremony for 10 previous years, knew they had to find a way in pandemic conditions to honour the memory of the men and women who fought and died for Canada during war time and on peace keeping missions, especially the local lads who didn’t make it home during the First World War.

“We knew it was going to be a no-go this year, because of COVID, so we started thinking of ways to keep up the ceremony,” Wendy said. “We met with the principal and band director of Collège St. Norbert Collegiate a couple of months ago to get this rolling. The choir and band from the school normally perform at the ceremony at the cenotaph, so we wanted their input.”

Sou'wester The cenotaph in St. Norbert during the taping of the virtual Remembrance Day ceremony. Photo by Deb Degryse Clark.

In a normal year, the Remembrance Day ceremony would take place at the cenotaph located in the St. Norbert Roman Catholic cemetery on Avenue Sainte Therese.

Art originally discovered the cenotaph while walking his grandson to school. After pushing aside the vegetation grown up around the monument, he discovered it was a memorial to 13 soldiers who fought between 1914 and 1918, including those they believe to be Métis.

He decided to hold a Remembrance Day ceremony in 2010, which drew around 50 people. 

Art served with the Fort Garry Horse, and originally approached Maj. Gordon Coutts about the idea for the ceremony, who encouraged Art to approach the regiment’s colonel about sending two representatives to that first ceremony.

The Bloomfields ran through their list of presenters, including representatives of the army, navy and air force, educational institutions, veterans, politicians, police services, local families, Girl Guides and more, and set about organizing a virtual ceremony.

“We hired a videographer, and scheduled people into time slots to speak and lay wreaths at the cenotaph (on Oct. 8),” Wendy said. “Art and our videographer, Kayla Goertzen from Rhyme and Reason, were out at the cemetery from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.”

“We had students read out the names of the 13 men on the cenotaph. We had people pinning poppies to the black band around the cenotaph. The trumpeters played the Last Post and Revielle, and we had a piper playing The Lament,” she said. “And of course, we’ll have the two minutes of silence, remarks about Remembrance Day, tributes made and wreaths being laid.”

A usual year would see a live ceremony of around 55 minutes, attended by between 300 and 500 people. This year, the virtual ceremony will last around 40 to 45 minutes, she said, depending on how the video is edited.

“We contacted a number of school divisions about using this as their Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 10, when teachers are looking for a virtual ceremony,” Wendy said.

The community is invited to walk or drive by the cenotaph on Nov. 11, and pay their respects, including pinning poppies onto the black band, Wendy said.

A website — currently under construction at stnorbertrememberanceday.ca — will list the names of the 13 soldiers on the cenotaph, and their biographies. The ceremony will stream on Facebook and YouTube on Nov. 11 at 10:45 a.m.

For more, see www.facebook.com/stnorbertremembranceday

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