Canada Commemorates COVID-19 Victims One Year After the Pandemic was Declared

Flags across the country were hung at half-mast to commemorate the deceased as Canada marked the first anniversary of when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rose in the House of Commons Thursday and said March 11, 2020, will always be marked by a before and an after.

Since the pandemic began, 2.6 million people around the world have died due to COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University — with more than 22,000 of them in Canada.

“Since the great wars of the 20th century, there is a sentence we often evoke, and it’s a sentence that we can bring back for those that we lost this year during the pandemic: We will remember them.”

Prime Minister Trudeau chose to make Thursday a national day of remembrance because it was the first anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a global pandemic.

The prime minister evoked the memories of Canadians being asked to stay home and stay safe, of essential workers stocking grocery store shelves and of people cheering health-care workers from their balconies.

The prime minister briefly touched on the multiple tragedies in long-term care centres, where seniors across the country died in the thousands from the disease, often in circumstances of labour shortages and immense personal hardship.

Memorials were held in different regions of the country including Quebec, where nearly half of the country’s deaths were reported.

Premier Francois Legault and other elected members carried white roses that were laid at the foot of a wreath during a ceremony in front of the provincial legislature.

The mayor of Edmonton, Alberta announced the city’s flag would fly at half-mast while Ontario Premier Doug Ford said he would seek consent from the legislature to observe a moment of silence recognizing all Ontarians who have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Flags were also flown at half-mast in British Columbia, where Premier John Horgan paid tribute to the nearly 1,400 residents who lost their lives to COVID-19 and the efforts of British Columbians to fight the pandemic.

Trudeau ended his speech on a hopeful note, telling Canadians that millions of doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are on the way, allowing provinces to accelerate their vaccination campaigns. Health Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines so far, and 1.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

Health Canada has approved four COVID-19 vaccines so far, and 1.5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

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