In the year we celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday, there’s a push on to hold a 150-hour vigil in front of the cenotaph in downtown Chatham.
Called CK Keeping 150, the non-denominational event is being organized by Judy Smith and Mark Sceviour of Christ Church Chatham. The idea is to have groups take three-hour shifts in the 150 hours leading up to the Remembrance Day service at the cenotaph at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11.
“Why not have the community do something for Remembrance Day rather than just the Legion,” Smith said. “He (Sceviour) thinks more about this stuff than the average Joe, especially with Canada’s 150th.”
This was also the year commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Dieppe, two key points in Canadian military history.
Sceviour said the timing is right to hold such a vigil.
“It’s just something I was thinking about for a while. I’ve been at cenotaphs all my life, usually in uniform,” he said. “For everyone else, I thought it was a bit disconnective.”
Smith said the vigil is an excellent way of saying thanks to the people who have served our country over the years.
“Let’s get together and be a group as opposed to being individuals. We’ve had people who have given up their lives for the freedoms we enjoy here in Canada,” she said. “We have to celebrate their lives and what they gave for us to have what we have.”
Sceviour said he worked with the municipality and Christ Church to hammer out the parameters. Revera Retirement Living, through its Village on the Ridge and Blenheim Community Village residences, came on board to help as well.
All that’s left is public support.
“Now we need the community to get on board. We could use 50 organizations or groups to donate three-hour shifts,” Sceviour said.
Smith said as soon as they announced their plans for CK Keeping 150, responses began coming back. By the beginning of October, organizers had about 30 of the 150 hours covered.
She hopes it continues.
Throughout the vigil, Christ Church will be open just around the corner from the cenotaph on Wellington Street offering food and hot drinks for vigil participants.
“We’re hoping other churches will come forward to help us man our kitchen,” Smith said.
Smith said for each shift, it would be optimal to have teams of 12 people – four at the cenotaph and two other foursomes to rotate through in 30-minute intervals.
She added teams of eight would still work, and if anyone wants to volunteer in smaller numbers and even as individuals, organizers will get them teamed up.
Anyone interested in participating can contact Sceviour at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include contact information and a preference for shift time/date.
Sceviour can also be reached at 226-376-1431, or through Christ Church office at 519-352-1640.
Two information meetings will be held for all participants on Oct 18 at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
The vigil will begin at 6 am Nov. 5.