Candlelight Vigil returns, A Night of Remembrance

Candlelight Vigil

Candlelight Vigil ceremony held at God’s Acre Cemetary, Victoria, British Columbia on 26 May 2022. Photo credit: S1 Kendric Grasby, Canadian Armed Forces

Peter Mallett 
Staff Writer

Thursday’s rain could not extinguish the flames of support during this year’s Candlelight Vigil at Veterans Cemetery (God’s Acre) National Historic Site.

The vigil was cancelled for the past two years because of COVID-19, but returned on May 26 with 350 attendees. The yearly vigil commemorates past and present service personnel, with current members passing symbolic candles to the younger generation of Cadets, Girl Guides, and Scouts Canada. The youngsters then place the candles on the graves of the fallen.

“It is important to show our veterans they will be remembered,” says Jennifer McFarlane, Chair of the Candlelight Vigil Committee.

McFarlane, an Administrative Officer with Canadian Forces National Investigation Services, has participated in the vigil since 2006. She is also the proud daughter of a former Search and Rescue Technician, Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Allan Campbell.

“The event gives youth the opportunity to hear veterans’ stories, but also allows the veterans to see their sacrifices will not be forgotten,” she says.

Sergeant (retired) Jim Mac-Millan Murphy says he was glad to see the ceremony return this year.

“Being involved in this ceremony each year means so much to me,” he says. “Hats off to the organizers and community for braving the terrible weather conditions and lighting their candles to remember our fallen soldiers.”

The Canadian Scottish Regimental Association Pipe Band led a marching contingent and colour party. The vigil is managed by the Township of Esquimalt. The attendees this year included local author and historian Mark Zhuelke, Mayor of Esquimalt Barb Desjardins, and Lillian Lyuk, the daughter of Canada’s last survivor from Dieppe.

McFarlane notes the cemetery is one of Victoria’s “hidden gems”. She hopes more people can visit the site and realize its beauty and historical legacy. The cemetery is a National Historic site and an honoured final resting place for those who served at sea since 1868. Its original tiny white chapel and gravestones are nestled in the middle of the Gorge Vale Golf Course.

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