Sombre, sad, well organized and reflective.
That was the Remembrance Day ceremony at Sullivans Pond in Dartmouth on Saturday that appeared to foster the right mood to honour those who had given their lives for country and freedom in military situations.
Right mood, wrong place, said one Halifax woman.
“It’s shameful and disrespectful and it’s unfortunate that the city has allowed that to happen and to move things here,” Carolyn Myatte said of moving the main Nova Scotia Remembrance Day ceremony from its regular location at the Grand Parade by City Hall in Halifax to Sullivans Pond.
The Nova Scotia Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion decided on Oct. 24 that the regular service ought not to be held at Grand Parade because of the homeless tent encampment at parade square that now has more than 20 tents.
Craig Hood, the executive director of the Nova Scotia Nunavut Command and a participant in the Sullivans Pond ceremony, told The Chronicle Herald at the time the decision was made keeping in mind that Remembrance Day is a state of mind, not a location.
“What (the ceremonies do) is bring Canadians together to reflect on the service and sacrifice of those Canadians that have gone before us,” Hood said.
“The move was made given the situation that many Nova Scotians find themselves in in regard to homelessness and the encampment that is currently located on the Grand Parade grounds,” he said.
“We do not feel it would be appropriate to encroach on those people who find themselves in desperate times.”
Hood said the legion consulted with its partners in making the decision.
Sullivans Pond, with its cenotaph, is a large venue that can handle the larger crowds, he said.
“We feel it’s very suitable and very accommodating for the event,” Hood said.
A smaller Remembrance Day ceremony has been held at Sullivans Pond for many years.
“And what’s great about that is we didn’t have to reinvent or recreate a Remembrance Day service on such short notice, we could simply enhance the one that we currently have.”
He added the ceremony was to be the same as it would have been in Grand Parade, which follows strict rituals and protocols.
Myatte said her father, Corp. George Myatte, served 30 years in the infantry and both her grandfathers, Ryan Fraser and Joe Myatte, also served in the Canadian military. Fraser fought in the Second World War.
“I’m here for that very important reason,” Carolyn Myatte said.
“Remembrance Day to me is about remembering the sacrifice that every person made who served in the armed forces for our country,” she said. “Serving your country is the highest level of respect you could pay to a nation.”
Myatte doesn’t think that respect was honoured in the decision to move the ceremony.
“I’m happy to be here today but I don’t think that the people who served our country would be very happy to know that that is what the city is allowing,” she said of the homeless encampment trumping the Remembrance Day ceremony.
“I understand that people struggle with mental illness and addiction and homelessness. It’s a very real issue but on a day as important as this, I don’t think that that should take precedent.”