OTTAWA – On July 13, 2020, at 9 am EDT, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) resumed their post at the National War Memorial. “It is important for Canadians to commemorate significant anniversaries and accomplishments that have been instrumental to the growth and prosperity of Canada and our military heritage. It is with great pride that we continue our National Sentry Program in this unprecedented time, yet, the decision to begin the National Sentry Program in 2020 was only reached after meaningful consultation with health agencies and the City of Ottawa,” says Major-General William Seymour, Acting Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command.
With the mounting of sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Sentry Program reinforces Canada’s commitment to remember and honour Canadians who have contributed to our nation’s long-standing tradition of military excellence to the present day.
In 2020, due to the requirements to limit the spread of COVID-19, the National Sentry Program was delayed from its expected start date of April 9. Today, the program will resume in a progressive, deliberate, and safe manner and continue at a reduced schedule until November 10.
The CAF has been welcomed by the City of Ottawa to begin this low-risk outdoor activity, as an opportunity for residents and possible visitors to feel a sense of normalcy while the City implements the gradual resumption of activities following recent COVID-19 related isolation measures.
“The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of our most significant reminders of the service and sacrifice of members of the Canadian Armed Forces. We honour past and presentmembers whose actions, at home and abroad, have given us the freedom and quality of life we enjoy. I thank our partners at the City of Ottawa who helped us make the program happen in these extraordinary circumstances. I encourage all Canadians to stay safe while visiting the site and paying their respects to our fallen heroes,” comments Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.
- With the start of the World Wars commemorations, and in recognition of the many anniversaries occurring between 2014 and 2020, the CAF have expanded the current National Sentry Program to include a permanent ceremonial guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
- Established in 2007, the National Sentry Program is designed to reinforce public awareness that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located in Ottawa at the National War Memorial, is to be treated with dignity and respect. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a significant symbol of tribute and for the sacrifices made to Canada by fallen members of the CAF.
- In previous years, sentries were posted seven days a week. In 2020, sentries will be on duty at a reduced schedule, Monday to Friday, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.
- To limit any possible spread of COVID-19, members of the National Sentry Program will follow protective health measures of the government and the CAF. Visitors are asked to keep a minimum two-metre distance from the sentries at all times.