SASKATCHEWAN — It is because of community Legion branches that Remembrance Day activity happens. They arrange to have crosses and wreaths displayed in community spaces, they have poppies for purchase and they are largely responsible for community Remembrance Day services as well as hosting the Legion poster and writing contests in schools each year.
The Legion exists so Canada never forgets. They understand the importance of honouring past sacrifices and acknowledging the courage of those who have served and those who still serve today.
Through Remembrance Day ceremonies and participation, the poppy campaign, commemorative activities, youth education programs and more, the Legion works to ensure Canadians will always honour service men and women, and remember.
In Winnipeg, in 1925, the Legion was founded as “The Canadian Legion of the British Empire Service League,” and it was incorporated by a special act of parliament who issued a charter in July of 1926.
Dec.19, 1960, Queen Elizabeth II gave her consent to use the prefix “royal” and thus the organization became known as The Royal Canadian Legion.
The main objective of the Legion is to provide a strong voice for First and Second World War veterans. They have since expanded to offer more dedicated support to not only veterans but those serving at home and abroad.
The Legion continues to work towards improving the lives of veterans that include the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families, being their principal objective, along with promoting remembrance.
The Legion includes 1,350 branches from coast to coast and in addition to their commitment and dedication to veterans and service men and women, they have contributed to a number of community causes in the towns they serve.
For instance, the Unity Legion from Oct. 1, 2020, to Oct. 1, 2021, donated $500 in a bursary at the high school and $2,800 to the cenotaph and cemetery, amongst other contributions. Unity’s Legion membership looks after and pays for the upkeep and maintenance of the Legion Hall that is used for a number of community events and activities in addition to regular Legion meetings.
The www.legion.ca website outlines information regarding the Legion and their role in the country, the province and communities.
The legion.ca poppy store sells a number of poppy items that help generate funds for Legion purposes. The Remembrance yard signs have been a big seller. Wanting to have residents get a personal insight on veterans, the Legion set up a website www.poppystories.ca wherein people can scan their poppy or scroll through the scanning process to learn biographical information on Canadian veterans, putting a face and a local connection to veterans.
The Saskatchewan Legion Command, www.sasklegion.ca follows the same mission as the national Legion as well as provides support to provincial branches. The Saskatchewan Command was also formed in 1926.
Saskatchewan Command of the Royal Canadian Legion has a provincial membership of approximately 9,000 with 163 Legion branches throughout the province.
For the Legion, remembrance is a year-long commitment. Nov. 11 is their most important day of the year. Legion members seek the public’s support in their poppy campaign, encourage businesses and homes to display a cross or wreath, set up some kind of tribute at their community memorial sites or cenotaphs, create a special tribute at veteran cemetery plots as well as commit to hosting a Remembrance Day service in their community.
As mentioned in the article in Oct. 28 issue of the Press-Herald and Community Remembrance Day services need communities to help. - SaskToday.ca, many Legion branches are wondering who is going to fill their shoes when their reduced, aging membership is no longer able to undertake these tasks. Luseland, Wilkie and Unity all reported their membership is drastically diminished, and their future and longevity is uncertain.
The question remains if Canadian, provincial or community citizens feel passionate about the Legion and their work to step up or if the 97-year-old organization that provided almost 10 decades of service devoted to remembrance will fade away.