Brock held a Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11 to which all students, faculty, staff and community members were invited to attend.
The ceremony was held in a portion of the Ian Beddis Gym equipped with several rows of bleachers, a stage and a Remembrance Day monument as the focal point of the proceedings. The room was completely packed, every seat was occupied and several individuals stood along the periphery in order to pay their respects on the occasion.
When asked why she came out to the ceremony, Kiren Sahota, a fourth year Concurrent Education student responded, “It’s a matter of respect for the people who fought for what we have now and a way to show our thanks for their sacrifice. Other countries don’t have what we have so it’s good to appreciate what they did.”
The event officially began with a traditional Aboriginal drumming ceremony which took the form of a harmonious duet. Brian Power, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Humanities and a faculty member in the Department of Music, lead the ceremonies and began by acknowledging the ultimate purpose for coming together each year on Nov. 11.
“Lest we take for granted the peace, order and good government we enjoy today in this great country. Lest we take for granted the freedom of speech, of religion, of artistic expression we enjoy in this country, the freedom of academic thought and expression we enjoy in this institution. Lest we take for granted the cultural diversity, the economic prosperity, the technological advancement, the health care standards and the access to education, in short, the superlative standard of living we enjoy in this great country, which is unparalleled in most of the world today. Lest we take these things for granted — and it is easy to do so sometimes in today’s fast-paced world — we must pause to recall and hold in reverence the service and the lives of the Canadians who have gone before us and who have put themselves in harm’s way in myriad conflicts around the globe to ensure our safety and our peace and our standard of living and ensure these things for our children and our grandchildren,” said Power.
Musical performances on the trumpet as well as the bagpipe proceeded this humbling speech and served as a backdrop for the attendees to reflect and appreciate the circumstances which lead to the current realities of life in Canada. After a solemn moment of silence and a rendition of our national anthem sung by Brock student Billy Sadler, Jack Lightstone, President of Brock University, delivered his address. He began by assuring that Remembrance Day is not a time to glorify or celebrate war. Instead he suggested that we try to learn the important lessons from war necessary to avoid repeating the same grim mistakes which lead to violence and conflict in history. To drive his point home, Lightstone recited entries from Private Frank Walker’s personal journal he kept as a stretcher-bearer in World War I in order to create a pathos to the realities of war.
Kyle Rose, President of BUSU, followed this with a speech of his own. He reflected on a particular passage of the beloved poem In Flanders Field. Rose focused on the battles that Canadians face at home, every single day; the battles of racism, sexism, agism, homophobia and all other forms of discrimination.
“The mosaic begins at the academic level and is transferred to the students [through education],” said Rose.
The Graduate Student Association’s president, Aidan Smith, followed these words with a touching personal account of how the war affected his grandmother who served as a nurse.
Alexandra Li Tomulescu, a fourth year Dramatic and Performing Arts major, performed the iconic Canadian poem, In Flanders Fields.
“My family are immigrants to Canada. We’re from a small village [in Europe] and the war affected us. I wanted to do people who have ties to the war proud. I was paying my respect, it was a privilege,” said Tomulescu.
With the passing of the Federal election in October, the issue of immigrant participation with Canadian traditions and customs was a contentious issue brought to public attention. It’s interesting to consider the meaning and value of a day like Remembrance Day to someone who is new to Canada or is just visiting. Sahota believes that this demographic should indeed participate with events like this because, “they may not have had the opportunity to come here if it wasn’t for those soldiers we’re respecting on Remembrance Day.”
This Remembrance Day is especially important for Canadians as The Herald News reports that the newly formed Liberal government has wavered on its campaign promise to reopen nine Veterans Affairs Canada Offices in the province of Nova Scotia. These issues do matter and they are important for us as a Canadian population and society as we are indebted to these individuals and their sacrifices in the service of our country.
Assistant Internal News Editor