A member of the Okanagan Youth Pipe Band will perform every Friday afternoon in honour of those who are not able to have a funeral, service or celebration of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Contributed)

South Okanagan piper to perform for livestreamed memorials

Penticton funeral home to show performances every Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Providence Funeral Homes is using the sound of bagpipes every Friday at 4:30 p.m. to honour those who are not able to have a funeral, service or celebration of life as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Restrictions during the pandemic include a prohibition on gatherings with more than 50 people and requirement that people must be at least two metres from each other, in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Beginning April 3, a single piper from the Okanagan Youth Pipe Band Society will play outside of the funeral home in Penticton and the performance will be livestreamed to the Providence Funeral Home and Crematorium Facebook page.

READ ALSO: Death looks different in a pandemic: B.C. bereavement workers, religious leaders taking new measures

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Province bans large gatherings in B.C.

Nolan Adam of Providence Funeral Homes, said the inspiration for the performances came from his grandfather.

“My grandfather said ‘we must grieve the death and memorialize the life. The bagpipes can help accomplish both.’ This is a wonderful way to support our community and celebrate those who have died,” he said

The Okanagan Youth Pipe Band Society is a non-profit organization. This is the only pipe band exclusively dedicated to youth in southern British Columbia. The band is also dedicated to providing resources to foster personal development and team accountability.

“One of the functions of a pipe band is to support community events throughout life’s cycle of celebrations,” said Kim Smith-Jones, band manager. “From a birthday to a funeral you will find a piper or pipe band announcing or memorializing the event through music. The sound of the pipes and drums travelling on the wind evokes strong emotions in those who hear them.”

Adam said while the bagpipe tribute has been put in place for the COVID-19 pandemic, it may be in place much longer.

“I think this will continue beyond COVID-19,” he said.

While a member of the band will physically be present and playing outside of Providence Funeral Homes on Main Street in Penticton, all involved ask the community to respect physical distancing and isolation guidelines and watch the Facebook livestream instead of the live performances.

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