Editorial: Rethinking war remembrance a timely exercise

Time is right to rethink Oak Bay's cenotaph and Remembrance Day ceremony

When Oak Bay’s cenotaph was first built, it was designed to honour the district’s 97 people killed during the Second World War. It wasn’t until 2004 that the memorial also included those from the First World War, Korea and additional peacekeeping conflicts.

After hearing Master Corporal Jayden Cormier’s moving Remembrance Day discussion about his experiences in Afghanistan, Mayor Nils Jensen thought it was time once again to give the municipality’s cenotaph and its Nov. 11 service renewed attention.

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

Of his presentation at Glenlyon Norfolk School, Cormier humbly says, “it is quite an honour, as a young veteran, to be active in the community.” He’s further expanded that community participation by joining Oak Bay’s task force to review the cenotaph and ceremony.

With growing numbers attending Oak Bay’s Remembrance Day ceremonies, the task force wants to better accommodate larger crowds. It’s also looking at broadening the use of the site, making it more accessible and creating a ceremony more inclusive to all, notes Coun. Tara Ney, task force chair. “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.”

It’s important we remember the past and give pause to what it has meant to us as individuals, as a community and as a country.

As time moves on, and one generation gives way to the next, our symbols and ceremonies must also evolve, not forgetting those who came before, but also honouring those who came after. With that in mind, the time is right to give thought to how we want to honour those sacrifices today and in the future.