A man touches the helmet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after laying a poppy following the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang)

Younger Canadians interested in attending Remembrance Day events: poll

Survey found a 10% spike in people who plan to go to a ceremony this year compared to 2017

Canadians of all generations are more likely to honour military veterans by attending a Remembrance Day ceremony this year, a new survey suggests.

A poll commissioned by Historica Canada, the organization behind the popular Heritage Minutes videos, found a 10-per-cent spike in the number of respondents who planned to take part in a ceremony this year compared to 2017.

The online poll, conducted by Ipsos, found 39 per cent of those surveyed had firm plans to attend a ceremony on Nov. 11 compared to 29 per cent the year before.

The survey found plans were relatively consistent across demographics, with millennial respondents expressing the most consistent enthusiasm for attending Remembrance Day events. It found 41 per cent of 18- to 34-year-olds polled planned to attend, compared to 40 per cent of respondents over 55 and 38 per cent of participants between 35 and 54.

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Historica CEO Anthony Wilson-Smith called the findings around millennials gratifying, saying the poll results challenge the theory that the generation with the fewest tangible connections to the two World Wars would be most likely to ignore Remembrance Day.

“We are now at a point where we have to contemplate that the day will come when there aren’t any more World War Two veterans,” Wilson-Smith said in a telephone interview.

“That leaves you to wonder if, when everyone is gone, will people still be able to grasp the significance of war, of sacrifice, of the causes that drove people to war, and the outcomes,” he said.

“The answer would appear to be yes.”

Wilson-Smith speculated that at least part of the surge in interest in Remembrance Day ceremonies stems from the fact that this year’s events will mark the 100th anniversary of the armistice that brought the First World War to an end after four years of strife.

But he said the younger generation’s apparent connection to the day may also come from personal ties to those who served in more recent conflicts, such as the war in Afghanistan in which 158 Canadian soldiers and two civilians were killed.

The poll found 95 per cent of those surveyed felt Remembrance Day ceremonies should honour veterans of recent conflicts. It also found 83 per cent of respondents planned to wear a poppy in the run-up to Nov. 11, with baby boomers showing the most enthusiasm for that idea.

The online poll of 1,002 Canadians also surveyed how many respondents had visited a cenotaph or other war memorial in their community or elsewhere.

Participants in B.C. were most likely to have done so, the survey found, noting the provincial response rate of 64 per cent was well above the national average of 46 per cent.

The Ipsos survey was conducted between Oct. 25 and Oct. 29, Historica said.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

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