Representatives of the Sooke branch of the Royal Canadian Legion kicked off the annual poppy fund drive Wednesday (Oct. 28) by presenting the first poppy to Mayor Maja Tait and T’Sou-ke Nation Chief Gordie Planes.
Remembrance Day is Nov. 11.
“It’s always important to remember those that have served,” Tait said after receiving her poppy from legion president Richard Steele.
Planes said, despite the world changing over the last eight months due to the pandemic, it’s important to remember those that made the “ultimate sacrifice” to preserve democracy.
The Royal Canadian Legion is taking the unprecedented step of discouraging Canadians from attending Remembrance Day ceremonies this year as COVID-19 upends the traditional ways of honouring those who sacrificed their lives for Canada.
The Sooke legion branch plans a stripped-down version of the annual sombre ceremony on Nov. 11 as provincial health regulations restrict large-scale gatherings due to the rising number of new COVID-19 cases.
Instead, the legion won’t host a parade, and only a small ceremony is planned at the cenotaph. The public is encouraged to view proceedings through a virtual telecast on the legion’s Facebook page, starting at 10:50 a.m. on Nov. 11.
One thing that won’t change this year is the annual poppy campaign and the sale of wreaths. Taggers will ensure there’s a physical distance between themselves and those donating.
“It’s going to be harder to have the support that we’ve had in the past,” said Steele, adding this could be the most challenging year ever for poppy donations due to the pandemic.
“[The legion’s] still looking for people to help purchase wreaths,” he said.
“It plays an important part in helping support veterans, seniors and youth groups in Sooke. If businesses don’t support us, then it will be tough to raise enough funds to give to our various organizations.”
Donations collected from the poppy campaign support veterans and youth programs.
Individuals and business owners interested in buying a wreath can call the legion manager at 250-642-5913 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.