The Virden Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion sent delegates to the Dominion Convention in Winnipeg.
President Shea Apland, Treasurer Hank Kyle, executive member Kevin Procyk, and Sgt.-At-Arms Kelvon Smith, attended the convention held at the RBC Convention Centre from Aug. 25 - 29. They joined over 3,000 delegates from across Canada to vote on resolutions, hear from eminent speakers and attend information workshops.
The first workshop dealt with the Poppy Fund and Poppy Trademark. (Some companies in Canada have tried to hi-jack the Poppy.) A Branch cannot authorize the use of the Poppy symbol to any organization or company or individual.
All of the 1,400 Branches should be a source of information to Veterans. Veterans have a right to be re-assessed from year to year. Some Veterans pay for help with forms and such, but their local Legion can help them for free. As well as assisting with their social welfare, the Legion's influence can help to fill in any gaps in service to Veterans and their families.
The RCL can now receive renewals and new memberships electronically (www.legion.ca). Membership cards are plastic and renewal stickers are put on the back. However, paper form membership requests are still accepted.
Exit and Hospitality
The fourth workshop dealt with the pressing issue of maintaining membership. This year, with an 85 per cent renewal rate, the Legion had 26,000 new memberships - better than last year.
Now, automatic renewal notices will go out if you're in the computerized system. (Dominion Command's goal is 300,00 members by 2026.)
Hospitality is important at Legion Branches where all should be made welcome with a smile and a sincere welcome.
The Virden Branch took part in a massive parade of Legion Members from across the nation, from the Legislative Building to the Provincial War Memorial for a Memorial Service and Wreath Laying. The parade then returned to the RBC Convention Centre.
Opening Ceremonies took place at the Convention Centre. The Dominion Command Colour Party carried the following flags: the National Flag, the Red Ensign, the Union Jack, the NATO Flag, the United Nations Flag, and the Dominion Banner.
There were speakers, question and answer sessions, resolutions to discuss and vote on, plus Dominion Command elections.
The Minister and Deputy Minister of Veteran Affairs attended; they announced that $10 billion will be spent on Veterans’ and Life Pensions, starting April 1, 2019.
Grand President Admiral Murray from Dominion Command, (ret. CAF in 1997 while Acting Chief of the Defence Staff) spoke to the convention. He stated that there are no second class members or veterans in the Legion – all are on equal footing.
Commonwealth Veterans in many far-off countries receive no aid from their governments. The RCL works to provides these Veterans with shelter and one daily meal. This assistance includes the widows of Veterans.
New, a Legion National Foundation was introduced.
The Dominion Command Treasurer presented the tentative 2019 and 2020 budget. Planning to hold expenses in check, he stated that the Foundation will take over some of the Programmes offered by Dominion Command.
The American Legion and the Royal British Legion Presidents spoke, as well as representatives from the RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, Cadet Programme, Legion Sports, the Canadian Silver Cross Mother, the Veterans Ombudsman, to name a few.
According to an independent survey, the Dominion Office operates effectively. The National Director said there has been a decrease in revenue, a decrease in staffing and lower costs. The staff of Dominion office were commended for their work, while they receive 12 to 20 per cent lower pay than similar types of organizations.
Dominion Command Comrade Murray is the present chair of a group of seventeen other Veterans Groups in Canada. The group meets at Legion House in Ottawa to discuss current issues.
RCMP Inspector and a Sgt. from the Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada (CISC) spoke of biker gangs (such as Hell's Angels, the Outlaws, the OMG, etc.) taking advantage of Legion Branches. Biker gangs have brought a smudge to Remembrance Day Services, using the opportunity to promote their image as good guys while actually they are a criminal element with no interest in protecting the image of the RCL. CISC will provide public awareness to communities. Gangs can be prohibited from taking part in ceremonies and entering Club Rooms.
The Legion National Track and Field Meet is Canada’s Junior National Championship. Between 360 and 400 young athletes plus their escorts and coaches attend this national event which was held in Brandon, Man. Next year the track and field event will be in Cape Breton, N.S.
His Royal Highness Prince Harry, has been awarded the RCL Founders Award 2018, for his work with the Veterans' Invictus Games, an international sporting event for injured servicemen and women.
The fourteen Branches in Winnipeg supplied suppers and entertainment for the delegates. There were exhibitors, a supply sales area, and concessions.