VANCOUVER — Dylan Larocque’s family moved around a lot when he was a kid. Until he was six, the British Columbia-based video game streamer’s father was in the Canadian Navy.
“I come from a sort of military background,” Larocque told HuffPost Canada. “Growing up, my dad was always out at sea.”
Now, Larocque will honour his father and other veterans with a moment of silence during his stream on Nov. 11 as part of the Royal Canadian Legion’s #PauseToRemember campaign.
A partnership with HomeEquity Bank, the campaign encourages video gamers to pause their streams for two minutes on Monday and play a video from the legion acknowledging Remembrance Day and directing viewers to donate to the digital poppy fund.
“I like the idea of bringing it to a gaming platform,” he said.
Larocque said he hopes it can be an educational moment for his viewers.
“With all these, like shooters and war games — it’s all a game to people now,” he said. “So the message that is trying to be portrayed by the campaign is that war is not a game.”
The legion has also utilized the worldwide sensation, dance-creating, Halloween-costume inspiring game Fortnite to create “Remembrance Island.”
The custom map — accessible in the game’s Creative Mode using the island code 5053-3302-4847 — features settings related to the First World War, including trenches, beaches and the Vimy Ridge cenotaph. There is no violence on this island, contrary to the rest of the game.
On Monday Nov. 11, gamers are encouraged to visit the cenotaph at 11 p.m., start a “party” and have their own moment of silence and salute, then share images or streams using the hashtag #SaluteThePoppy. Holding the moment of silence at 11 p.m. rather than the traditional 11 a.m. is a way to “meet the gaming community on their terms,” according to the legion.
Royal Canadian Legion communications manager Nujma Bond told HuffPost Canada that the initiative and Fortnite project are ways to reach out to new audiences with education around Remembrance Day.
“People are using different ways to communicate and to be present today, and one of those ways is through gaming,” Bond said.
“It’s a bit of an opportunity to also actually stop everything, stop playing, sit and remember about the importance of what our veterans have done for us.”
“It’s a bit of an opportunity to also actually stop everything, stop playing, sit and remember about the importance of what our veterans have done for us,” she said.
On the Fortnite island, gamers’ only objective is to follow the poppies to various settings and go through 30 informational plaques derived from archival material.
The gamer-focused initiatives are part of a larger push to modernize the legion for the digital age. This year, the legion partnered with Twitter to launch an official poppy emoji, that will accompany related hashtags on the site.
The poppy emoji will be automatically added to tweets with following hashtags: #RemembranceDay #ArmisticeDay #LestWeForget #WeWillRememberThem #SaluteOurForces #BehindThemAlways #RemembranceSunday #GetYourPoppy #PortezUnCoquelicot #TwoMinuteSilence #ThankYouForYourService #TYFYS.
This year will also mark the second year of the legion’s Digital Poppy Fund, where people can go online and donate to get a social media embeddable poppy.
The campaign was supported by Canadian figures ranging from actress Sandra Oh to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I’m dedicating my digital Poppy to Brigadier General T.G. Gibson, my spouse Graeme’s father. He fought in World War Two in Italy and then through Holland and into Germany,” author Margaret Atwood wrote.
“We’re hopeful that what we’re doing is complementing the traditional way of donating, and giving more people the opportunity to donate if they wish,” Bond said.
She said they’re also looking at ways people can donate digitally at poppy boxes across the country. This year, they launched a pilot project in Calgary with a scannable code at physical poppy boxes where people can donate online as they pick up their physical poppy.
And while many of these new initiatives are targeted at fundraising for the legion, Larocque says he’ll be pausing his stream not only to raise money.
“It’s not just about fundraising,” he said. “It’s also about spreading the awareness and getting people to know about our veterans.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story referred to “Remembrance Island” as a partnership with Fortnite. It was independently created.