To honour Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members who lost their lives in service to Canada, Manulife employees planted over 12,000 flags on the lawn of their Bloor Street campus.
This is the seventh year they have done this, and this year’s display was revealed on November 4, 2021, and will remain in place until November 11, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Each flag represents the men or women who have lost their lives in service to Canada, either in wartime or peacekeeping missions starting from the Boer War to Canada’s mission in Afghanistan. Every year Manulife checks with the CAF and Veterans Affairs Canada to make sure they have the correct amount of flags.
Peter Wilkinson, global head of regulatory and public affairs for Manulife, said, “We decided that COVID-19 was not going to stop the display,” however one thing that will be changed is the ceremony they have on the lawn.
Like last year, the ceremony for employees will be a virtual event, and it will not be open to the public. Wilkinson noted that while the event isn’t open to the public this year if the event is held virtually again next year, “we should consider whether or not we should make it more widely available.”
Currently, the Manulife office is closed, but people can come by to look and take pictures of the display. It takes up a city block and sits behind iron gates. Wilkinson described that often what you’ll see is people walking by to stop and stick their cameras in between the gate.
Looking back on why Manulife originally started the Remember the Fallen display, Wilkinson said there was a feeling inside the company that we are fortunate to be here in Canada.
“We’re very lucky to have the rights and freedoms and responsibilities and the stability both economically, socially, and politically in this country as compared to many other places in the world.”
He added, “And that’s because there was a bunch of people who in the past answered the call to protect all of that. Some of those people never made it back. Some of those people did make it back, and they were injured. And we have many people today still serving.”
Wilkinson explained, one of the ways that they can try to pay that debt is to show respect, honour, and gratitude to those people. Manulife always had a wreath at the bottom of their flag pole on the front lawn, but they decided they could do something more.
Many employees look forward to putting the flag on the front lawn year after year, said Wilkinson.
“None of this is part of anyone’s regular day-to-day duties, but once people are involved, they always want to stay involved,” said Wilkinson.
Many of the employees who have worked on this project receive letters from retirees, customers, and people just walking by.
Wilkinson stated, “The display is not just about one day across one week. It’s about remembering all the time about what the men and women have done.”