86% of Canadians think Remembrance Day should be a national holiday

    - National poll findings also show strong majority feel elementary and
    high school Remembrance Day ceremonies should be mandatory -

    WINNIPEG, Oct. 30 /CNW/ - As six cities across Canada make their final
preparations for Vigil 1914-1918 Vigile a week-long national project to
remember those who died during the First World War, a new Pollara Strategic
Insights poll, conducted on behalf of Canada's National History Society
reveals that 86% of respondents support making Remembrance Day a national
statutory holiday in all provinces and territories.
    "Past research experience has shown us that Canadians do not provide
kneejerk support for any new statutory holiday proposal. There has to be a
meaningful purpose. It cannot be frivolous," said Craig Worden, Senior
Vice-President, Public Affairs. "The level, and especially the intensity, of
support for this holiday is significant and deserves attention."
    Although a strong majority of respondents (88%) agreed that Remembrance
Day was an important and meaningful day for Canadians, less than one-fifth
(17%) were able to correctly identify the original purpose of the day, to mark
the end of the First World War. The Vigil Project is a special initiative of
the History Society produced in association with R.H. Thomson, Martin Conboy,
to mark the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World Ward by
broadcasting each the names of those who were lost across the National War
Memorial and supporting simultaneous broadcasts in six other cities and
through a live Internet webcast.
    The survey findings also revealed that while the importance of
Remembrance Day was not lost to the majority of Canadians, only 22% indicated
that they personally had participated in organized ceremonies of Remembrance
last year. With fewer (20%) expressing an intention to participate this year.
    50% of respondents felt that individual Canadians should do more to
recognize and observe Remembrance Day, and also indicated that all three
levels of government had a role to play to encourage them. Four-in-ten
respondents indicated the federal government (44%), their provincial
government (43%), or their local or municipal government (42%) should all do
more to recognize and observe Remembrance Day in 2008.
    The majority of respondents (75%) reported having worn a poppy last year
as their way of honoring Remembrance Day with 63% intending to wear one this
    Older respondents (from 75% to 89% of those 35 and older) are more likely
to report having worn a poppy or other symbol last year than younger
respondents (61% of those 18 to 34). Similarly, older respondents (from 59% to
79% of those 35 and older) are more likely to report the intention to wear one
this upcoming Remembrance Day (compared to 49% of those 18 to 34).
    "As time takes us further away from the First World War, and those with
the ability to share their experiences pass on, it clearly becomes even more
difficult to connect younger generations to this important part of our past.
However, I believe these results show a lot of interest among Canadians and a
recognition that Remembrance Day should have a more meaningful role in the
daily lives of Canadians," stated Deborah Morrison, President and C.E.O. of
Canada's National History Society. "These results indicate to me that when
encourage to take initiative, like wearing a poppy, Canadians are keen to
embrace the opportunity. They are looking for more leadership to inspire more
direct and meaningful acts of Remembrance. But frankly, that's hard to
accomplish when the day is treated like a regular working day."
    The poll asked respondents a series of questions about how they spent
Remembrance Day last year, and how they intended to mark the day this year.

    -   Three-fifths report they stayed at home last Remembrance Day (58%),
        while fewer (36%) intend to stay at home this year. Less than one-in-
        ten report they went shopping last year (8%), or intend to shop this
        year (4%) on Remembrance Day. Similarly, only 3% were on vacation on
        Remembrance Day last year, while fewer (2%) plan to be on vacation
        this Remembrance Day.

    -   Other Remembrance Day activities respondents plan to do this year to
        mark the day include spending the day with family (37%), watching or
        listening to a TV, radio, or online broadcast (36%), thinking or
        learning about Canada's war casualties (25%), or spending time with
        friends (20%). Only one-fifth (19%) of respondents say they plan to
        do nothing special.

    -   Those who have attended a Remembrance Day ceremony in the past (78%)
        are much more likely to strongly support making Remembrance Day
        ceremonies mandatory in all elementary and secondary schools than
        those who have not previously attended a Remembrance Day ceremony
        (53%). Women (61%, compared to 53% of men) and those who were born in
        Canada (61%, compared to 41% of those who were not) are more likely
        to feel the same.

    -   Younger respondents (67% of those 18 to 24) are least likely to
        support implementing mandatory Remembrance Day ceremonies for
        students in elementary and secondary schools (compared to 75% to 89%
        of those 25 and older).

    Although Remembrance Day was originally established throughout the
Commonwealth to mark the end of the First World War, it would appear that for
most Canadians it has become a day to honour all military service. The largest
proportion of respondents (36%) feel that Remembrance Day was first
established to honour all Canadians who served in all military conflicts,
while one-quarter (25%) believes that it was first established to honour the
Canadians who served in World War I. Equal proportions feel that the day was
established to mark the end of the first World War (17%), and to honour
Canadians who served in World War I, II, and the Korean War (17%).

    On behalf of Canada's National History Society, from October 8 to 16,
2008, Pollara Strategic Insights conducted this online survey of 1,902
Canadians. The data were weighted to demographic and regional characteristics
according to the most recent Census data, in order to approximate a
probability sample. An unweighted probability sample of this size with a 100%
response rate would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.3 percentage
points, 19 times out of 20. Pollara is Canada's largest strategic insights,
market research and polling firm, with offices in Toronto, New York, Ottawa,
Vancouver, Montreal, Bathurst and Caraquet N.B.


                           Vigil 1914-1918 Vigile
                           A Project of Remembrance

    From sunset November 4th through to sunrise November 11th, Canadians are
invited to participate in a national public vigil commemorating the 68,000
Canadians who lost their lives in WWI. The names of the 68,000 war dead will
be projected over a week of nights onto the National War Memorial in Ottawa,
onto the side of Canada House in Trafalgar Square in London, England, and in
public spaces in five other Canadian cities: Halifax, Fredericton, Toronto,
Regina, and Edmonton. Vigil 1914-1918 Vigile will also be broadcast in
Trafalgar Square in London, England with Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II in
attendance for the opening ceremonies.
    Local school, community groups, and individuals are invited to join in
the Vigil. Canadians can log into www.1914-1918.ca to look up the names of
loved ones and confirm the night and the minute when their name will appear in
this innovative tribute to remember the individual men and women who were lost
during the First World War.
    The website will enable Canadians to join in and participate in the
Vigil, wherever they are, watching the live broadcast from Ottawa, or via the
virtual Vigil that will be keyed to broadcast using local times. It will also
enable them to leave comments and personal reflections about their Vigil
experience, or post pictures from other Vigil sites across the country to
share with the rest of us.
    Veterans Affairs Canada's Community Engagement Partnership Fund has
generously contributed $340,000 towards the production of the national Vigil
on the War Memorial in Ottawa, the simultaneous webcast of the event, and
support for the coordination of other Vigil sites.
    Those interested in participating in the vigil can go to
www.historysociety.ca/vigil for event information. Teachers are encouraged to
explore the educational resources available for classes at the website.

    About The Creators of Vigil 1914-1918 Vigile

    Martin Conboy is a renowned lighting designer with a background that
includes direction, producing, scenic and design. He has credits for over 150
productions in Dance, Theatre, special events, light shows and many site
specific light art installations. In architectural lighting, he has worked on
projects with design firms across Canada, and government projects in Canada
and abroad. The latter includes the Canadian National War Memorial in Ottawa
and Vimy Memorial in France.

    RH Thomson is one of Canada's foremost actors/directors has received
national awards over his 30 year career. In 2001, RH Thomson wrote and
performed a highly personal play, The Lost Boys, based on letters written home
by his five great-uncles who fought in WWI. Its television version delivered
his second Gemini Award. In 2007, he co-created and produced the Vimy Vigil in
Ottawa with Martin Conboy, for Veterans Affairs Canada.

    Canada's National History Society is a Winnipeg-based charitable
organization established in 1993 by the Hudson's Bay Company with the mission
to promote greater popular interest in Canadian History, mainly through its
publishing programs. The Society publishes Canada's second oldest magazine,
The Beaver: Canada's History Magazine, as well as Kayak: Canada's History
Magazine for Kids. It also administers the country's top history honours: The
Pierre Berton Award; and the Governor General's Awards for Excellence in
Teaching Canadian History.

    Ecentricarts Inc. is a web design and development company, which works on
many arts, culture and education-based projects. This innovative studio is
based in Toronto and has clients across Canada and internationally.
Ecentricarts Inc. designed and built the online Vimy Vigil project and is
honoured to be working on the 1914-1918 Vigil project. Visit
www.ecentricarts.com for more information.

    The organizers wish to thank the Canadian High Commission in London, the
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, the National Capital Commission and the
Canadian War Museum. For further information on Canadians in the First World
War please link to the Virtual War Memorial at www.vac-acc.gc.ca or go to
www.cwgc.org, www.historysociety.ca/vigil or www.warmuseum.ca.

    For more information:

    Deborah Morrison                              RH Thomson
    President and CEO                             rhrh@sympatico.ca
    Canada's National History Society
    204 988 9300 ext 22 (work)
    204 293 1867 (cell)

    Martin Conboy
    Principal, Martin Conboy Lighting Design
    (613) 569 4845

For further information:

For further information: Deborah Morrison, President and CEO, Canada's
National History Society, (204) 988-9300 ext 22 (w), (204) 293-1867 (c),
dmorrison@historysociety.ca; Craig Worden, Vice-President, Public Affairs,
Pollara Strategic Insights, (416) 921-0090, craigworden@pollara.ca

Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890