Cpl. Branden Stevenson (right) returned this week to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier He was on guard on Oct 22 when his close friend Cpl Nathan Cirillo was fateally shot beside him. Earlier he released a public statement saying ""In the coming days, I'll be resuming my duties at the National War Memorial. It will not be an easy task, but I am resolved to do it in honour of Nathan, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, and all those who stood, and continue to stand, on guard for Canada"
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Ron Foxcroft)

Remembrance Day debate- National Holiday?

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The targetted killings of two Canadian soldiers in Canada has heightened awareness and sensibilities of the coming Remembrance Day.

Late last month Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was killed by a car in a deliberate hit and run in a city south of Montreal, and Corporal Nathan Cirillo was shot  nd killed in Ottawa while standing guard at the Tomb of Unknown soldier.

Originally Armistice Day, Remembrance day has been marked annually since 1919 to remember and reflect upon the fallen in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping ever since the end of the First World War at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.  At that moment, two minutes of silence is observed.

It is a federal holiday, meaning across the country, federal buildings and banks will be closed.  In situations where federal employees are required to work, they are paid at a higher rate (1.5 x regular salary) for the day.

This year, even before the heightened sensibility, a member of Canada’s Parliamnet proposed a private member’s bill to make November 11th a national, statutory day off, applying to all businesses and activities, not just federal ones, and in all provinces.

Several provinces and the three territories have separately declared it a holiday, but it is not universal across Canad, most notably in Canada’s two biggest and most populous provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

National holiday bill expected to pass in House of Commons, some veterans opposed

The proposal earlier this for a national holiday is expected to pass Parliament with support from all political parties.

It would make the day a holiday if November 11th falls on a weekday, if on a weekend, the Friday preceeding or Monday following would not be holidays.

It would eventually proceed to the Senate. Unless sponsored by a Senator for quick debate, it may linger there where it may simply die on the order paper if a general election is called before it can be debated.

Not all are in favour of the idea however, some veterans say that as it is now, schoolchildren are usually taught about Remembrance and sacrifice in schools. They say making it a a holiday would likely mean a lot of people would simply do other things and not take part in services.

10 quick facts on Remembrance Day (Govt of Canada)

  1. Remembrance Day was first observed in 1919 throughout the British Commonwealth. It was originally called “Armistice Day” to commemorate armistice agreement that ended the First World War on Monday, November 11, 1918, at 11 a.m.—on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
  2. From 1921 to 1930, Armistice Day was held on the Monday of the week in which November 11 fell. In 1931, Alan Neill, Member of Parliament for Comox–Alberni, introduced a bill to observe Armistice Day only on November 11. Passed by the House of Commons, the bill also changed the name to “Remembrance Day”. The first Remembrance Day was observed on November 11, 1931.
  3. Every year on November 11, Canadians pause in a moment of silence to honour and remember the men and women who have served, and continue to serve Canada during times of war, conflict and peace. We remember the more than 1,500,000 Canadians who have served throughout our nation’s history and the more than 118,000 who made the ultimate sacrifice.
  4. The poppy is the symbol of Remembrance Day. Replica poppies are distributed to the public in exchange for voluntary donations, by the Royal Canadian Legion to provide assistance to Veterans.
  5. Remembrance Day is a federal statutory holiday in Canada. It is also a statutory holiday in three territories (Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut) and in six provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador).
  6. The national ceremony is held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. The Governor General of Canada presides over the ceremony. It is also attended by the Prime Minister, other government officials, representatives of Veterans’ organizations, diplomatic representatives, other dignitaries, Veterans as well as the general public.
  7. In advance of the ceremony, long columns of Veterans, Canadian Armed Forces members, RCMP officers, and cadets march to the memorial lead by a pipe band and a colour guard. At the end of the ceremony, they march away to officially close the ceremony.
  8. Some of the 54 Commonwealth member states, such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia, observe the tradition of Remembrance Day on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Other nations observe a solemn day but at different dates. For example, ANZAC Day is observed in New Zealand on April 25. In South Africa, Poppy Day is marked on the Sunday that falls closest to November 11.
  9. Many nations that are not members of the Commonwealth also observe Remembrance Day on November 11, including France, Belgium and Poland.
  10. The United States used to commemorate Armistice Day on November 11. However, in 1954 they changed the name to Veterans Day.

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One comment on “Remembrance Day debate- National Holiday?
  1. Avatar Peter Ashcroft says:

    We celebrate Remembrance Sunday on 9th November, and our local Mayor has a Remembrance Day ceremony at the War Memorial in the centre of Huntingdon’s Market Square. As a County Councillor I have been invited to attend this 11.00 am ceremony.