UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect Alberta Premier Alison Redford's response to the incident.
Remembrance Day services will be held in schools across Canada this week, but not all students will be in attendance.
According to Edmonton's CTV news, Edmonton public schools will allow certain students to opt out of the activities planned for their schools.
"Typically it’s a really rare request, but in certain situations there are parents that would prefer their children not to be part of the Remembrance Day ceremony,” said Edmonton Public Schools spokesperson Jane Sterling. She notes these situations include religious beliefs and deaths in the family.
School boards across the country have their own ways of paying respect to the day meant to honour the efforts of Canada's armed forces in our country's wars. This year, the Royal Canadian Legion has created an online teachers' guide that at last count had been downloaded almost a million times.
"We've gone to particular lengths this year for teachers to communicate the message," Royal Canadian Legion director of marketing and membership Scott Ferris told The Huffington Post Canada. "It's to honour Canadian veterans, to honour the sacrifice."
In a response to the controversy, Alberta Premier Alison Redford noted her dismay at the schools' decisions, according to The Canadian Press. "I met today with three people who are wearing Silver Crosses," she told reporters. "And I believe that as a Canadian, it is our duty to respect and to honour everyone who has made that sacrifice."
But schools aren't the only ones coming up against some pushback. This week, upon discovering the CFL has two games scheduled on Remembrance Day — one in Toronto, with the Edmonton Eskimos playing the Toronto Argos at 1 p.m. (11 a.m. MST), and the other in Calgary, with the Saskatchewan Roughriders playing the Calgary Stampeders at 4 p.m. (2 p.m. MST), the Legion questioned the league's motives. But, says Jamie Dykstra, the CFL's director of communications, each game is honouring the date in its own way.
"The game doesn't start at 11, the broadcast does," Dykstra clarifies. "The game kicks off at 11:05 MST, and that's to allow for a proper pre-game ceremony to pay tribute to our veterans. For the past several years, we've partnered with Veterans Affairs Canada, so whether the game is actually on the 11th or around it, we take the opportunity to pay tribute to our veterans. For this game, there will be a moment of silence close to 11 o'clock (12:59 EST), so if viewers in Alberta turn the TV on at 11 MT, they will see the moment of silence."
Dykstra also notes there will be an RCMP officer singing the national anthem, a bugler performing "The Rouse", a Veterans Affair delegate performing the ceremonial coin toss, poppy decals on all players' helmets and a "Remember" logo field template.
As for student participation in ceremonies, while Ferris notes the Legion can't take a position with regards to the individual Edmonton schools' decisions — "we fully respect that" — he points in the direction of "In Flanders Fields," the poem written by Canadian John McCrae that is read at Remembrance Day ceremonies:
To you from failing hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
"If people aren't going to respect Remembrance Day," Ferris notes, "it's really a tragedy."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks with veterans following Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Friday November 11, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Chief of Defence Staff Walt Natynczyk salutes after laying a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Friday November 11, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
Soldiers parade in front of the cenotaph during a Remembrance Day ceremony Friday, November 11, 2011 in Quebec City. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot)
A man wraps a thermal blanket around a veteran to fight off the cold as they take part in a Remembrance Day ceremony at the war memorial at Queen's Park in Toronto on Friday, November 11, 2011. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Two Canadian soldiers comfort each other as they pay their respects to a fallen comrade at the war memorial after the last Remembrance Day ceremony at Kandahar Air Field.
Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay lays a touches one of the plaques at the war memorial during the last Remembrance Day ceremony at Kandahar Air Field Friday, November 11, 2011 in Kandahar, Afghanistan.
A soldier pays his respects to fallen comrades at the war memorial after the last Remembrance Day ceremony at Kandahar Air Field Friday.
Sgt, Renay Groves, from St. John's Nfld, 21 Elecrtonic Warfare Regiment, sheds a tear during the last Remembrance Day ceremony at Kandahar Air Field Friday.
People come to a halt to observe a minute's silence as a lone bugler plays the Last Post at an inner-city intersection on Remembrance Day, in Melbourne on Nov. 11, 2011.
A lone bugler plays the Last Post at an inner-city intersection as cars and people come to a halt to observe a minute's silence on Remembrance Day, in Melbourne on November 11, 2011.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh greets veterans during a service to mark Remembrance Day in the memorial garden at Westminster Abbey in London.
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, salutes during a service to mark Remembrance Day in the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey in London.
Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, notices the mascot of the 3rd and 4th battalions of The Mercian Regiment 'L/Col Watchman V', a staffordshire bull terrier, as he meets veterans during a service to mark Remembrance Day in the memorial garden at Westminster Abbey in London.
Alrewas, United Kingdom
A veteran pays his respects as he takes part in the two minute silence at the National Memorial Arboretum on Armstice day on November 11, 2011 in Alrewas, United Kingdom. Sir James Hawley KCVO, Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire, led the list of dignitaries at the Armed Forces Memorial during Armistice Day commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas.