Fewer Canadians Will Wear Poppies or Attend Remembrance Day Ceremonies Compared to Last Year

November 10, 2020

Fewer Canadians Will Wear Poppies or Attend Remembrance Day Ceremonies Compared to Last Year
Toronto – November 10, 2020 – COVID-19 has negatively impacted the celebration of important events in 2020. Remembrance Day will be no different, according to a poll by Ipsos carried out on behalf of Historica Canada. The findings reveal that fewer Canadians will wear poppies (71%; -14 pts) or attend Remembrance Day ceremonies (28%; -13 pts) – virtually or in-person – than in 2019.
“This is the first time in many years that we’ve seen a significant drop in engagement of this nature,” said Anthony Wilson-Smith, President and CEO of Historica Canada. “While this is clearly associated with the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s worrisome in terms of the ability of Canadians to continue to focus on the sacrifices made over the years by members of our military.”
The results indicate that virtual attendance or alternate forms of commemoration are no substitute for in-person ceremonies. Only one in ten (11%) say they will decorate their porch, windows, or driveway to commemorate Remembrance Day due to COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings. Those living in the prairies (MB/SK) are among the most likely to report doing this (26% vs. 10% in the rest of Canada).
This year’s poll also reflects a widespread lack of awareness of Canadian history’s key conflicts, events, and crises. One in six (16%) Canadians never learned about the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Persian Gulf War, Seven Years War, War of 1812, American Revolution, North West Rebellion, Bubonic Plague, Spanish Flu, Oka Crisis, or the October Crisis in school. 
Almost half (45%) of respondents think they know about the history of Black, Indigenous, and racialized groups in Canadian military service. Yet, only fourteen per cent (14%) correctly identify the No. 2 Construction Battalion as Canada’s only All-Black battalion. Slightly more than half (56%) recognize Japanese Canadians as the group forcibly evacuated from the West Coast of Canada during the Second World War. Overall, 11 per cent offer correct responses to both questions.
Other findings include:
  • Three-fifths (59%) of respondents think they know more about Canadian than American military history; that figure represents a significant decline (-8 pts) year-over-year.
  • Two per cent (2%) correctly rank the Second World War as having caused the most deaths, followed in order by the 1918 influenza (the Spanish Flu), the First World War, the Bubonic Plague, and the Korean War.
  • Significant anniversaries saw low recognition in 2020. One in ten (11%) say they commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Liberation of the Netherlands. Two in ten (19%) commemorated the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
  • Less than three in ten (28%) of respondents believe that youth under 30 understand the sacrifices of those who have fought and died in wars.
  • Most Canadians (71%) think Remembrance Day ceremonies will become smaller as time progresses and the last surviving veterans of the Second World War are no longer with us.

Historica Canada offers programs that you can use to explore, learn and reflect on our history and what it means to be Canadian.  
Full poll results are available here.
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between October 27th and 28th, 2020, on behalf of Historica Canada. For this survey, a sample of 1,000 Canadians were interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ±3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.