Ceremonial Protocol: not just fuzzy ropes

“Actually, we DO stand on ceremony!” says Carmen Barcena, the manager of the Ceremonial Protocol team at Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). The team makes sure that all protocols are properly followed when important events take place. Remembrance Day ceremonies, the Speech from the Throne and foreign dignitary visits are all part of their portfolio.

PSPC’s experienced team understands how important ceremony is in our collective lives and how their attention to detail creates the appropriate backdrop for celebrations and events of significance. We still feel the need to participate in something bigger than ourselves, even now, as we all navigate through the pandemic. While we may not be able to attend in person, the fact that they still take place (albeit with reduced capacity), provides some comfort.

The Ceremonial Protocol team is called upon for important local, national and international events (meetings, conferences, visits and ceremonies), ensuring that Canada maintains a consistent image of dignity and respect for tradition.

Flags are ironed, carpets are cut to size and cleaned, podiums are installed, ropes and stanchions are erected, and chairs are lined up perfectly. No detail is too small.

“We pay attention to all of these things so that they not only enhance, but also bring appropriate pomp and ceremony to important events,” says Carmen. “For example, we make sure that the flags are at the same height and aligned so that it does not create a distraction, rather, it creates an atmosphere of respect and dignity for the participants, whether it be a war veteran or the Governor General. And by the way, we call them ropes and stanchions, not fuzzy ropes.”

Close-up of Carmen Barcena
Carmen Barcena
An employee in a bucket truck installing a Canada flag on a street light
The flags are installed along the ceremonial route. A lift truck drives along, and Canadian and foreign dignitaries' flags are alternated on the poles lining the route.
An employee setting up wreath stands in front of the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Ontario
The annual setup for Remembrance Day ceremonies includes setting up the stands for the wreaths, ensuring they are labeled and in the right order.
An employee folding a Canada flag
The flags are cleaned and ironed at the team's warehouse, which holds everything from podiums to red carpets to flags of the world.
An employee scrubbing out a stain on a red carpet in the Senate of Canada entrance
No detail is overlooked, especially for high-profile events such as the Speech from the Throne at the Senate of Canada Building.
An employee cleaning a set of 2 red velvet stanchions
Ropes and stanchions are among the many things in the warehouse that are cleaned, repainted, repaired and maintained so they can be ready when needed.
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