Cenotaph site and ceremony to be more accessible, inclusive

Task force looks at recognizing all veterans and faiths

Oak Bay is looking at how to broaden use of the cenotaph site.

Oak Bay is looking at how to broaden use of the cenotaph site.

Last year, during a Remembrance Day ceremony at Glenlyon Norfolk School, Master Corporal Jayden Cormier spoke about his experiences in Afghanistan.

“That was the first time I spoke to a larger public audience. I have spoken to smaller groups before, (but)there were over 750 people in attendance at GNS,” says Cormier, who served with the Canadian Scottish Regiment and augmented the 1st Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry in Afghanistan 2008.

“It is quite an honour, as a young veteran, to be active in the community.”

The powerful speech struck a chord with Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen.

“Jayden really gave a whole new perspective on the intensity of his experiences going to war as such a young person,” says Jensen.

While many people may view war veterans perhaps being older and more seasoned, younger people who return from war also must be given the same respect, Jensen says.

“You really got a sense of the horrors of war. It was incredibly moving, and certainly something that I won’t forget,” Jensen says.

Spurred on by that experience, Jensen launched a task force to look at Oak Bay’s cenotaph and Remembrance Day ceremony.

Originally built to honour the 97 men and women from the municipality who died as a result of the Second World War, Oak Bay’s cenotaph was updated in 2004 to pay respect to all those killed in the First World War, Korean War and during peacekeeping missions.

The cenotaph is also the site of Oak Bay’s annual Remembrance Day ceremony.

With attendance on the rise, Jensen asked the task force to explore broadening the use of the site and to create a ceremony more inclusive to all.

The Oak Bay Cenotaph Task Group includes Cormier,  an environmental specialist, heritage specialist, archivist and citizen judge, as well as the task force chair, Coun. Tara Ney.

A task force report was received and accepted in principle by Oak Bay council, which asked the task force to provide a work plan of their recommendations along with a list of priorities.

One of the major priorities is to re-envision the space where the cenotaph rests with the intention of not only making the ceremony more inclusive, but also making the site more accessible.

“It’s important to make the site more accessible to the public,” Cormier says.

Ney also noted the task force aims to address the rising attendance at the Remembrance Day ceremony, with the hopes of better accommodating the larger crowds.

“We want to look beyond the cenotaph, and expand a vision for the whole space,” Ney says. “The idea of re-envisioning this special place as a place for community, including those who served, to reflect, pay respect, heal and reorient our futures with those who served and sacrificed,  is central.”

Jensen also wants to stress the importance of inclusivity for future ceremonies.

“We want the ceremony to be more inclusive, as well as more secular,” he says.

Obviously, the site is of major significance to Cormier as well. “It’s nice as a young member (of the military) to have a place the community recognizes, but it’s also nice to have a place to go to visit, and reflect. It’s very peaceful and beautiful,” he says, adding preserving the natural beauty of the site is important.

“This is the beginning of this process,” notes Ney. “We have the intention to work with the community and relevant stakeholders are invited to participate.

“We hope to have a service that will be inclusive of all faiths by next Remembrance Day.”

No decisions have been made to make any changes to the site at this point. The site has to be treated with great sensitivity given that it is designated as a heritage site.

However, a recommendation has been made within the report to widen the recognition of the site. Any changes listed within the report must fall within the federal and municipal laws and bylaws in order to be approved.

The full report can be found oakbay.ca.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cindy Foggit plays the lead role of Eliza in Passion and Performance’s film production Eliza: An Adaption of a Christmas Carol. (Courtesy of Rachel Paish)
Victoria adult dance studio releases modern adaption of A Christmas Carol

Instead of usual stage performance, dance studio turns to film

Willow, a kitten belonging to a Victoria family, was rescued by firefighters on Thursday after she got stuck in a basement drain pipe. (City of Victoria/Twitter)
Victoria kitten stuck in basement drain pipe rescued by firefighters

Willow the cat on the mend, owner feeling ‘enormous gratitude’

(Black Press Media file photo)
Blue-green algae bloom confirmed in Elk Lake, water-based activities not recommended

Blue-green algae can be lethal to dogs, cause health issues for humans

Victoria police arrested a man Jan. 15 after he rammed his minivan into an occupied police vehicle. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria man arrested for ramming minivan into occupied police vehicle

Man caught after fleeing, crashing into cement retaining wall

Mayor Rob Martin and Costa Canna president Phil Floucault cut the ribbon on Colwood’s first cannabis retail store. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Cowichan Tribes’ Costa Canna cannabis store opens in Colwood

Cowichan Tribes has one-year deal to grow, sell cannabis

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s top doctor says to avoid non-essential travel as B.C. explores legal options

Premier John Horgan says he is seeking legal advice on whether it can limit interprovincial travel

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the crowd during the march on Washington, D.C., in August of 1963. Courtesy photo
Government reinforces importance of anti-racism act on Black Shirt Day

B.C. Ministers say education “a powerful tool” in the fight for equity and equality

Most Read