ESTEVAN - Banners commemorating soldiers with a local connection who served during different military conflicts, wars and peacekeeping missions, or were a part of a police force, are coming up again this fall.
The commemorative project by the South East Military Museum grew bigger by about 40 new banners and names this year, and it will be making its return starting this week.
The museum's founder Craig Bird said all new orders were already in and banners were being printed in mid-September. Once they are done, they will start being put up along the streets in different communities in the southeast.
"They'll be up until after Remembrance Day. Typically, the towns take them down for Christmas decorations," Bird explained.
Kisbey and Whitewood joined Estevan, Weyburn, Lampman, Radville, Carnduff, Midale, Carlyle, Redvers and other southeast communities this year, bringing the total number of communities to 12. There will be close to 170 banners put up in the region, celebrating and commemorating those who served.
"We've added a couple of new ones. There was one specialty banner that we had done. It was for a friend of mine, who just recently passed away," Bird said. "He was a member of the British Army living in Manitoba. He was in the Falklands War. So, in honour of his service to the British Army during the Falklands War, we're going to put a banner up in Estevan to commemorate his service."
He noted that they are also commemorating 12 Indigenous veterans in Carlyle this year by putting up banners, depicting people who served from White Bear and Pheasant Rump First Nations.
"I'm working with White Bear and Pheasant Rump to get a more comprehensive list of the First Nations veterans from the area, and hopefully we'll able to get some pictures, so that we're able to get more veterans from there [commemorated] as well," Bird said.
People who joined the campaign before and wanted to keep their banners had an opportunity to have them put up again for an additional donation of $50.
The South East Military Museum also had some banners donated to them after the initial season, which they can put up as well. Some that they created were specialty banners such as Vimy Ridge, the plane crash of 1946 south of Estevan and others, that are displayed at the museum or elsewhere in the southeastern communities. (For example, the banners commemorating the victims of the 1946 tragedy found their forever home at the Wylie-Mitchell Hall in Estevan).
The campaign has been growing from year to year and has attracted a lot of attention.
"We've been getting a lot of positive feedback," Bird said. "Next year is a big anniversary for Moosomin, and we plan on doing a bunch of banners for Moosomin for next year, as well. So, we're going to add some more communities for 2024, and do some anniversary stuff for that community. Hopefully, we can just continue to expand. We're just getting more and more positive feedback, and the more communities we are in, the more interest it generates."
The cutoff date for the annual campaign is Aug. 15; after that, new banners are sent to production. Bird noted they already have a few new orders in the queue for the next year.
The campaign is also a fundraiser for the museum.
For more about the campaign and how to join it in the years to come, visit the South East Military Museum's website at semm.ca.