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Vets to be honoured in adapted ceremony

(COURTESY RAY DEER)

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Remembrance Day in Kahnawake will be celebrated tomorrow, and even though the annual parade was cancelled because the community remains in the COVID-19 red zone, ceremonies will be held to honour our military veterans.

Ray Deer, the president of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Mohawk Branch 219, said that they had presented the Kahnawake Task Force with three options for Remembrance Day ceremonies and celebration, but ultimately had to go with a reduced plan.

“We are not going to have a marching band,” said Deer. “We are not going to have a parade-style event. It will be totally different than what we are used to.”

Tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 a.m., the legionnaires will meet at the entrance of the Catholic Cemetery and conduct their usual ceremony.

“We will do our rifle salute and play taps. We will have the piper play the (Piper’s) Lament,” he said.

Afterwards, the same ceremony will be performed at the Protestant Cemetery.

“We always go there to honour our veterans that are in the Spirit World. In our minds, we are letting them know that we are there. We know that they hear us.”

Deer expects that the gatherings will be mostly made up of veterans who will drive instead of marching to the different locations.

“Then we are going to go to the cenotaph near the church. We are going to get into position at around 12 p.m.,” said Deer.

At 1 p.m., the usual ceremony will begin, and Deer said that any veterans from the community who want to participate are welcome.

“As far as the presentation of wreaths, we would like the people that have purchased wreaths to just place them right away. If they give us their names ahead of Saturday, then we will include them in the program,” he said.

Mohawk Branch 219 will also be honouring four members who passed on this year: Walter Beauvais, member of the United States Marine Corps during the Korean War era; Stuart Phillips, member of the United States Air Force during the Korean War era; Allan Schurman, member of the United States Air Force (retired); and Ronald Simpson, member of the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War era.

Dignitaries were not invited this year because of the ongoing situation.

The ceremonies are still open to community members as long as they wear a mask and practice social distancing.

Deer said that, like many other Legions across the country, Branch 219 has struggled with fundraising this year, even with the popular poppy campaign.

However, on Monday, the Legion received funds from Veteran Affairs Canada. Deer said that the money will be used to pay for the ceremonies.

“We have been scrambling for weeks now, changing plans, tweaking things, making sure that we have everything in place. It’s been hectic,” he said.

Nevertheless, he is happy that at least a portion of the Remembrance Day celebration will go on.

“The bottom line is we were going to do something to honour our veterans. ‘Lest we forget’ is our slogan. If we don’t do anything, then people will forget,” said Deer.

The theme of this year’s celebration will be focused on the founding members.

For more information on how to donate to the Legion in Kahnawake, call 450-638-1061.

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