National Sentry Program
On June 6, 2021, the National Sentry Program (NSP) resumed its programming for 2021. Barring changes in health postures by the City of Ottawa or the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), sentries will be posted seven days a week until November 10. Each day, sentries will be guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The National Sentry Program may pause, adjust hours, or end early to ensure sentries and visitors' health and safety. CAF will make decisions based on future recommendations by health authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19. If planning a visit, please check one of our social media pages to confirm any changes to the program.
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About the program
The National Sentry Program reinforces Canada's commitment to remember and honour Canadians who served in the twentieth century's major wars, including both World Wars. NSP also honours those who have contributed to Canada's long-standing tradition of military excellence through to the present day.
On October 22, 2014, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was tragically killed while on sentry duty. Sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier now holds an even deeper meaning for both the Canadian Armed Forces and the Canadian public.
The Canadian Armed Forces have posted sentries at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier since 2007. Normally, the program has included a rotation of sentries from the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and the Royal Canadian Air Force units from across Canada.
This year, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, the Canadian Armed Forces will draw sentries from all three service branches, but only from Ontario and Quebec. This decision was not made lightly, as members across Canada want to represent their units' milestones and pay personal respects through sentry duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
It is important to commemorate significant anniversaries and accomplishments instrumental to Canada's growth, prosperity, and military heritage. However, the CAF scheduled the National Sentry Program only after consultation with health agencies and the City of Ottawa.
The City of Ottawa has assured the CAF it welcomes this outdoor activity as a low-risk opportunity for residents and visitors. As Canada begins to adopt reopening phases, it is good to feel there is a sense of normalcy following isolation measures.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is Canada's most iconic and visible reminder of the service and sacrifice of the Canadian Armed Forces members.
In May 2000, the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in the First World War were repatriated from France. They were buried in a special tomb in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa with great ceremony.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier honours the more than 116,000 Canadians who sacrificed their lives in the cause of peace and freedom.
The Unknown Soldier represents all serving Canadians – Navy, Army, Air Force, or Merchant Marine. Those who died or may die for their country in all conflicts – past, present, and future.
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