Millennials more likely to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies: poll

Canadians between 18 and 34 are the ones most likely to pay their respects in person

A new survey suggests millennials are leading a gradual resurgence of interest when it comes to attending Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The poll conducted by Ipsos on behalf of Historica Canada found that 29 per cent of respondents plan to attend a ceremony to honour fallen soldiers on Nov. 11, up three per cent from last year and marking a return to recent highs established in 2015.

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But the online survey suggests Canadians between 18 and 34 are the ones most likely to pay their respects in person.

The poll found 37 per cent of millennial respondents planned to attend a ceremony, well ahead of the 29 per cent of baby boomers over age 55 who were surveyed.

Just 23 per cent of survey participants aged between 35 and 54, classed as members of generation X, expressed an intention of going to an official ceremony.

Historica Canada says the surge in interest in attending Remembrance Day ceremonies may be the result of increased efforts to share veterans’ stories in schools and other public spaces, exposing younger generations to real-life accounts of time in combat.

Historica Chief Executive Officer Anthony Wilson-Smith said veterans relaying the horrors of war in person in Canadian schools, or sharing their anecdotes in online archives, have had a chance to make an impression on a demographic that often gets a “bad rap.”

Wilson-Smith said both the survey results and his own experience suggest millennials are engaged and patriotic, adding that ready access to information beyond Canada’s borders may also play a role.

“We’re more aware of our place in the world, and that translates into greater appreciation of sacrifice in a global context,” he said in a telephone interview.

The survey found that 73 per cent of participants have heard directly from veterans at some point in their lives.

Of those, 43 per cent said their exposure came either through a school presentation or through watching an archived account on film or online. Just 30 per cent said their interaction stemmed from conversation with a veteran they personally know.

Shifting demographics may also be driving the gradual rekindling of interest in Remembrance Day ceremonies, which appeared to hit a low back in 2008 when only 16 per cent of respondents to a survey held at the time indicated plans to attend one.

“We do see that very often, those who have come here from other countries have a greater appreciation for the values of this country and the things that people have gone through,” he said. “Because they come from countries, sometimes, that are war-torn themselves. They’re grateful for this peaceful environment here, but also how it came to be that way.”

Numbers from the Ipsos survey suggested, however, that plans to attend a ceremony did not necessarily equate with intentions of wearing a traditional red poppy.

Seventy per cent of millennial poll participants planned to don one compared to 72 per cent of gen X respondents and 88 per cent of those from the baby boomer bracket.

The survey of 1,003 Canadians was conducted online between Oct. 24 and Oct. 26. The polling industry’s professional body, the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association, says online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error as they are not a random sample and therefore are not necessarily representative of the whole population.

Michelle McQuigge , The Canadian Press

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