The number 11 has a special meaning to Canadians. Each year on the 11th day of the 11th month, Canadians across the nation commemorate those who have fought and served this country.
Staff and students came together, whether in-person or virtually, to acknowledge those from the past and in the present.
In their opening remarks, President and Vice Chancellor Rhonda Lenton said, “York joins communities across Canada in honouring the millions of courageous military personnel, past and present, who have defended this nation and protected our personal freedoms, in times of conflict and times of peace. We also commemorated the contributions and sacrifices made by Indigenous veterans.”
Lenton continued by acknowledging, “As we reflect on the courage and commitment that lives within our military personnel, we call upon that same strength to continue to uphold the values upon which York was founded — values of access, excellence, connectedness, and impact — as we work collectively toward a safer, more peaceful world.”
On behalf of the Indigenous peoples, Young Spiritual Elder Philip Cote from the Moose Deer Point First Nation gave his remarks and performed a ritual along with a traditional song to honour ancestors from the past. “To remember the hearts of our men, women, fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. To honour these brave warriors who fell in battle while defending the land for future generations.”
Cote continued, “Tecumseh, my ancestor was one such warrior receiving a vision of the future that cemented his role to becoming a defender of Upper Canada. Indigenous Allies came together with the British to safeguard Upper Canada, to protect what now is the country, Canada. His actions continue to speak of the importance of a renewed leadership and vision for our united future.”
Captain Mike Ablett, a PhD student in the history department, gave his remarks as well: “Today is not about glorifying war, today is an act of remembrance as an act of solidarity. It’s about us coming together to remember Canadians who sacrifice through war so that we may live our lives in peace.”
What does Remembrance Day mean to students?
Nesha Thambirajah, a third year commerce student specializing in accounting, says, “Remembrance Day is a day of reflection. To honour those who have sacrificed so much to allow us to live our lives the way we do today.”
Thambirajah continues to express York’s efforts in holding this ceremony. “Despite the pandemic, York decided to hold a small, limited ceremony to honour those on Remembrance Day. This act shows us that even though the pandemic has taken so much from us, we are still able to show and honour those who have done so much for us but in a safer, covid-friendly way.”
Remembrance Day is truly a time to take a moment of silence in reflecting on those who hold up and make Canada the country it is today.