ESTEVAN - The South East Military Museum officially started three years ago as an initiative aimed at preserving the military history of the region and educating the communities in the southeast about their brave ancestors and the past.
With current inflation, they desperately need the public's support to keep serving their goals.
"Our museum started in 2019 with the idea to further the knowledge and educate our youth about the military history here in the southeast. To that end we have been successful," said museum founder Craig Bird. "We provide educational presentations, historical displays and tours, as well as assisting families in locating service records/documents and commemorating veterans in the southeast with remembrance banners,” said Bird.
“We have also taken on projects to clean and maintain monuments, ensuring veterans' graves are properly marked and digitizing and archiving original photos and documents."
With pandemic-related restrictions lifted, the museum was able to do more public events this year. They hosted a traditional Vimy Ridge presentation. They also have the 80th anniversary Dieppe presentation scheduled for Aug. 20. They were helping with Forever in the Clouds memorial dedication this summer and hosted museum tours.
Also, they took upon the cenotaph refurbishment project and continue installing memorial banners around the southeast, commemorating local veterans.
With a number of valuable projects underway, the museum found itself facing unforeseen financial challenges due to increased supply and service costs
"We budget for what we're going to be doing with the year and this year, I don't know something odd has been going on. We've gotten budget requests and work requests done for the cenotaph, for example, it was one of the things we got quoted in the fall of last year to do the work this spring.
“And when we actually got the work done, of course, things have changed just because of supplies, pricing and that sort of thing. So, we had an increase there and we weren't really expecting as much of the increases as we got. We're having to shoulder that as the museum," Bird explained.
South East Military Museum is a private organization and receives no government funding outside of grants and private donations. Yet even the grants have changed from what they were expected to be this year.
"Some of the grants that we had applied for last fall as well, we ended up getting notification that they were cutting back the amount of the grant. So instead of getting the full amount, we got half and, in some cases, a third of the grant money," Bird added.
The museum also does a lot of archiving, digitalization and restoration of historic documents and photographs, and they were hoping to replace an old computer which is used for those purposes but running out of space.
"We don't want to lose all of that museum data. So we were hoping to get a new computer. And the grant that we were supposed to get is not even half of the cost of the computer," Bird noted.
The cost of the banner brackets went up 20 per cent, and the museum already quoted a price to organizations like the legions and different communities and cities in the area that didn’t include the increased costs.
"It's not fair to them to have to pass that cost on so the museum's ending up shouldering that 20 per cent increase in costs," Bird said. "Everything is just hitting here all at once in our budget we set for a year, and it's starting to come short."
As a smaller-scale organization, they only have a few volunteers, so holding big fundraisers would be difficult as well. That's why to avoid cancelling programs and important projects, they decided to reach out to the communities they serve for help.
"We would like to continue doing the work that we do so the only way we can do this is with your help," Bird said in his post. "If you can help us, we are a registered charity and can provide tax receipts for donations for over $20."
Any funds received will be used to further the museum's agenda and programming.
"I believe that it's all of our responsibility to make sure that our veterans are commemorated and remembered well into the future," Bird added. "If you can help us, please do."
Donations can be done via credit card through the museum’s page on Canada Helps; through electronic banking via e-transfer to their email at email@example.com (please send an email with your address so that a tax receipt can be mailed out); or with cash or cheque in person at the museum site at the Royal Canadian Legion’s Estevan branch.
"I would like to thank all those who have assisted and helped with the museum to date. It's greatly appreciated," Bird said in the Facebook post.