Remembrance Day commemorates the sacrifices of people in all armed conflicts.
What Happens on Remembrance Day?
Many people wear artificial poppies on their clothes in the weeks before Remembrance Day. Red poppies symbolize the memory of those who died and white poppies campaigns for non-military interventions in conflict situations. On November 11, special church services are organized. These often include the playing of “The Last Post”, a reading of the fourth verse of the ‘Ode of Remembrance’ and two minutes silence at 11:00 (or 11am). After the service, wreaths are laid at local war memorials.
The official Canadian national ceremonies are held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario, according to a strict protocol. A service is held and wreaths are laid by armed services representatives. In May 2000 the remains of a Canadian soldier who died in France in World War I, but was never been identified, were laid in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial.
Since then, members of the public have laid poppies, letters and photographs on the tomb. Similar services and events are held throughout Canada. Some schools that are open on Remembrance Day hold special assemblies, lessons and presentations on armed conflicts and those who died in them.
What’s Open or Closed?
The federal government recognizes Remembrance Day in the Holidays Act as a national holiday, but not all provinces treat it as a paid statutory holiday. Its status varies by province.
Manitoba retail business is prohibited between 9am and 1pm on Remembrance Day, with exception to professional health services, goods or services relating to:
- Living accommodation or prepared meals.
- Veterinary services.
- Drugs, medicines, surgical appliances, or infant formula.
- Gasoline, motor oil or related products.
- Or parts and services for emergency repairs to a vehicle.
Remembrance Day is not a general holiday under Manitoba’s labour legislation but most industries in Manitoba are not allowed to operate that day, with some specified exceptions.
In Ontario, some employers give their employees a holiday on Remembrance Day, but they are not require to do so under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).
Remembrance Day is also not a statutory holiday in Quebec, although corporations that are federally registered may make the day a full holiday, or instead, designate a provincially recognized holiday on a different day. When Remembrance Day falls on a Sunday or Saturday that is a non-working day, workers are entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the general holiday.
Remembrance Day is governed by the Remembrance Day Act in Nova Scotia. Some employees may be entitled to a benefit. Employees required to work on Remembrance Day in Nova Scotia get an alternate day off with pay, except for those types of businesses that are exempt from the Act. Employees who do not work that day, do not get paid for the day, unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit. Remembrance Day must be observed on the actual date.
About Remembrance Day
Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the official end of the World War I hostilities on November 11, 1918. World War I was a massive conflict was played out over the whole globe, but particularly in Europe, where troops from Canada supported the Allied forces.
World War I resulted in the loss of huge numbers of lives amongst both civilians and military personnel. Many more people were badly injured. The war left great emotional scars in the servicemen, who had experienced it, and in the communities, whose sons, brothers, fathers, uncles and even grandfathers had died. Remembrance Day commemorates those who died in armed conflicts, particularly in and since World War I.
In Canada, November 11 is officially called Remembrance Day, but it is also known as Armistice Day and Poppy Day. Remembrance Day is commemorated in many countries, particularly members of the Commonwealth, including Australia and New Zealand (where it is also referred to as Armistice Day). In the United States, Veterans Day falls on the same date. In the United Kingdom, the Sunday closest to November 11 is known as Remembrance Sunday.
Remembrance Day is symbolized by the artificial poppies that people wear and place at war memorials. The poppies may be worn or placed singly or as wreaths. The use of the poppy as a symbol of remembrance comes from a poem written by John McCrae, a Canadian doctor serving in the military. The poem is called In Flanders Fields and describes the poppies growing in the Flemish graveyards where soldiers were buried.
Poppies grow well in soil that has been disturbed. They also grew in large numbers on battle fields. The red color of their petals reminded people of the blood lost by victims of and casualties in the conflict. Some people choose to wear white poppies to campaign for non-military interventions in conflict situations.
Other symbols of Remembrance Day are the war memorials, which are often near the geographical center of communities. These commemorate members of the community, who have died in military action. A particularly well-known memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa, Ontario. The military parades held on November 11 are also symbolic of Remembrance Day.
Note: For more information on the day, government sources such as Veterans Affairs Canada have a more detailed account.