Ècole Lindsay Secondaire Thurber Comprehensive High School held its first in-person Remembrance Day ceremony since 2019 on Tuesday and focused on honouring inspiring women, including the late Queen Elizabeth II.
Once again a bag pipe rang out in the gymnasium to launch the ceremony, followed by slide shows of art work and photos of women at work during war, presentations, live music, laying of wreaths, the Last Post and two minutes of silence. The hour-long ceremony is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qzzD9V2Otbg.
The Queen was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service and trained as a driver and mechanic during the Second World War. She was among the many women who contributed to war and community efforts, before women began taking an even more active role in the armed forces.
About 200 students usually take part in some way to the school’s multi-media presentation, including artists, speakers, singers, musicians and more. Several other schools in Red Deer also hold ceremonies in advance of Remembrance Day.
Red Deer historian Michael Dawe said in the First World War women could be found near the frontline working as nurses in Canadian field hospitals. Nicknamed bluebirds for the uniforms they wore, some Nursing Sisters lost their lives.
“The rules of war were you didn’t attack hospitals or convalescent facilities. But they did,” Dawe said.
“Women’s role in providing nursing services was enormous. They were the backbone of a lot of the military hospitals and convalescent hospitals.”
He said back home women helped organize the Red Deer Home Comfort Fund during the Second World War which sent packages to soldiers in overseas training camps, near battles, and in prisoner of war camps where items like cigarettes could be bartered.
“They did manage to do pretty well getting stuff over there.”
He said during the Second World War many women helped run the A-20 Army Training Camp in Red Deer and worked in local businesses, like the post office, as well as on the farm.
“They still needed the jobs filled with so many people overseas.”
He said women were also active canvassers for war bond fundraising campaigns. The high demand for agricultural products from the Red Deer area during Second World War allowed local campaign contributions to surpass expectations.
Nov. 8 was also National Indigenous Veterans Day, and Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson recognized those who served.
“For more than 200 years, thousands of Indigenous people bravely dedicated their lives to service. This history includes the War of 1812, the two world wars, the Korean War and recent military conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East,” Wilson said in a statement.
“Many Indigenous veterans lost their lives and others continue to serve in times of war and peace despite many facing racism back at home.”