Thursday November 11th is Remembrance Day – and it can bring up so many great questions in a young family. What are the poppies about? How do we explain the significance of such an intense and important time of year? What is an age appropriate way to talk about Remembrance Day?
To get started on this deep and important topic, let’s first get on the same page with what November 11th is all about, and why we honour this day across Canada.
In 1931, after insistent representation from the Canadian Legion, parliament enacted the Armistice Day Act. The Act ensured that November 11th would be set aside as a day distinct and apart from any other observance upon which the nation could pay special tribute to those “who gave their lives that freedom might prevail”.
In 1970, an act, known as “The Holidays Act”, was passed by Parliament which included, among other holidays, Remembrance Day. An extract of that act reads as follows:
“Throughout Canada in each and every year, the 11th day of November, being the day in the year 1918 on which the Great War was triumphantly concluded by an armistice, is a holiday and shall be kept and observed as such under the name of Remembrance Day.”The Holiday Act, 1970
Yet how do we explain this important time to our children? Here are some great suggestions:
1. Focus on Honouring People
You can do this a number of ways, be it discussing the contributions of women and minorities, the vast numbers of people who fought for our freedom, and the gratitude we all give.
“You can best honor them by using this day as a way to teach kids about both the honor and courage these people displayed in the course of performing their duties, as well as the valuable lessons they have taught us (namely, that the fighting of any war comes at too high a cost). In the end, Remembrance Day can provide an excellent way to instill your children with an understanding of the ramifications of war and give them a reason to work towards a more peaceful world.”Sarah Danielson: parentscanada.com
To have some conversations with your children about the contributions of women and minorities, the Veterans Affairs Canada website offers great information on some of the often overlooked contributions of Aboriginal-Canadians, Women, Asian Canadians, and Black Canadians
2. Talk About Your Family History
Further to your conversation at home about the history of war in your own family, you may find it helpful to attend a local Remembrance Day ceremony. Giving the kids a first-hand chance to see veterans and be part of the celebration will encourage them to ask questions and learn more.
Here’s a list of local ceremonies being held in Toronto:
3. Understanding Why We Wear Poppies
Poppies are worn to pay tribute to those who gave their lives in war because poppies grew on the battlefields, especially on the Western Front, before and after World War One.
Wearing a poppy is important, but also explaining to your child the reasons why you are wearing it will help kids gain a deeper understanding and respect for the day.
The Poppy has been widely recognized as a symbol of Remembrance, since it was first adopted in 1921. By wearing the poppy, we demonstrate our gratitude to those who gave their lives for the freedom we enjoy.Legion Ontario Command: on.legion.ca/remembrance/the-tradition
Each year, for two weeks before Remembrance Day, Legions throughout Ontario carry out our Poppy Campaign. The campaign raises awareness of the Poppy as a symbol of Remembrance. The poppy continues to be sold worldwide to raise money and to remember those who lost their lives in the First World War and in subsequent conflicts.
This can be a great conversation / lesson to children around the power of giving from a place of gratitude, and who in this case, is able to benefit from these gifts.
Many blessings to all of you, on this day of Remembrance.