NEW! Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Take the quiz and Win a Trivia Challenge prize pack!

Canadian Military History Trivia Challenge

Take the quiz and Win a Trivia Challenge prize pack!

47th Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario convention

MA 1 MA 2

Military welcomes ties with Legion

Two Royal Canadian Air Force officers speaking at the 47th Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario Command Convention June 20-23 shared some ideas for strengthening ties with the military.

Inviting serving personnel to branch activities establishes a relationship, said Colonel Joël Roy, commander of 17 Wing in Winnipeg. But that relationship is solidified when Legion members get involved in activities on wings and bases such as honours and awards ceremonies, mess dinners and activities at the Military Family Resource Centres.

“Meeting personnel and families and slowly establishing a rapport,” strengthens the ties, he said. Over the past couple of years, 17 Wing has pushed for each of its units to become affiliated with a Legion branch. 

“The Royal Canadian Legion’s role in ensuring our youth remember the sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for our freedom is key for the future of our society and our country,” Lieutenant-Colonel Danielle Clouter, wing administration officer, said at the opening ceremonies.

MA 3
Mel Willis becomes president.
Sharon Adams

The Legion is “an integral part of our Canadian society,” she said. The Legion is known for advocacy and remembrance, but less so for community service. “I think you could improve your visibility in the community. This would go a long way to ensuring everyone knows about all those great things you do, and may serve to attract new members.”

The convention kicked off Sunday with a parade of more than 150 Legionnaires and guests to Memorial Park Circle Cenotaph where wreaths were placed by Manitoba-N.W.O. Command President Dan Kidd and Ladies Auxiliary provincial council Acting President Annadee Erickson, Transcona Branch President Celeste West and Transcona L.A. President Shelby Hanuschuk as well as representatives of the Canadian Armed Forces and the municipal, provincial and federal governments. Opening ceremonies followed at the Club Regent Casino event centre.

“We are in this organization together for the same purposes,” said Dominion Chairman Jack Frost when the 171 delegates got down to business Monday morning. He reported national expenditures have been reduced by close to $1 million, and there will be no more deficit budgeting.

Although eliminating dominion representation at provincial conventions had been considered, it was decided a representative should attend, not only to bring news from the national level, but “to listen and take back…issues that you have.”

Frost introduced a short video in which Dominion President Tom Eagles described cost-cutting measures, efforts to build membership and an appeal for donations to the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League. A total of $21,004 was raised in donations from branches and from the floor. The money will support veterans and widows in the Caribbean.

Delegates made it clear their concerns over expenses at the national level have not dissipated. Receiving unanimous support with no debate was a resolution from Transcona Branch in Winnipeg calling for financial transparency regarding salaries and expenses of Dominion Command staff and external consultants. It calls for Dominion Convention financial reports to include the number of Dominion Command positions with salaries and bonuses over $100,000. It also calls for reporting of Dominion Executive Council officers’ expenses, including personal and spousal travel and convention expenses.

After the resolution was carried, Transcona’s Lorne Tyson was granted time to explain the resolution. “We are not worried if somebody is making more than $100,000 per year,” he said, but since membership revenue supports Dominion Command operations “members of the organization have a right to know how much our executives are making.” However, a confidentiality clause stipulates “we can’t know how much they make unless they agree to have their salaries disclosed.… It’s a situation that should be changed.”

There was also no discussion before passing of a resolution proposed by Charleswood Branch in Winnipeg requesting Dominion Command develop a financial management manual, since most branches do not have members well versed in financial management and accounting principles.

Honorary Treasurer Patrick Moore reported the fiscal years 2013 and 2014 ended with surpluses of $35,327 and $29,851 respectively. In the president’s report, Kidd said command has signed with Fenety Marketing to publish another Military Service Recognition Book. “Without these funds we would have to raise our per capita tax…we are the lowest in the country at $8.” Publisher Mark Fenety later reported book sales have contributed a little more than $420,000 to command revenue between 2009-14.

MA 5
Legionnaires and guests assume positions for the ceremony at Memorial Park Circle Cenotaph.
MA 4
Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario President Dan Kidd (at left), accompanied by Sergeant-at-Arms Dennis Harvie, prepares to place a wreath.
Sharon Adams

“Membership continues to be a major concern,” said Kidd. He encouraged branches to get involved in the One by One membership campaign.” Membership for 2014 was 24,323, down 14,660 since 2000.

Jennifer Ross McMullan, Veterans Affairs Canada client services team manager, said the department appreciates the Legion’s support and services to veterans. “We truly value our ability to work closely together,” she said, adding the Legion has helped the department better ways for veterans and their families to make contact.

A resolution from Oak Lake Branch requesting Dominion Command supply manuals and books requested by rural branches passed with little debate. Although all Dominion Command manuals are available online, many rural branches share space with organizations that don’t have computers or have executive members who do not wish to become computer literate.

Several non-concurred resolutions were brought back for discussion and voting, but only one—calling for all elected Provincial Council Members to have Internet and e-mail access by 2017—was passed. Opponents of the motion argued not every member has a computer or smart phone, and this requirement would be a bar to some members who might like to run for office. Supporters argued elected officers need not have their own equipment, but could use that of the branch. As well, members who might seek office in future have two full years’ notice to learn the necessary skills.

Linda Kohut, the command representative on the 2013 Pilgrimage of Remembrance, presented slides and an overview of the trip to Canadian war cemeteries and battlefields in Northwestern Europe, and how she has used the experience in teaching children about remembrance.

In elections, First Vice Mel Willis of Charleswood Branch in Winnipeg was acclaimed president after Kidd of West Kildonan Branch in Winnipeg declined nomination for a second term. 

Ronn Anderson of St. James Branch in Winnipeg and Tony Safronetz of Grandview Branch were nominated for First Vice. Anderson was acclaimed as Safronetz declined nomination for that position, and his name was automatically added to the list of contestants for vice-president. He also declined that nomination.

It took four ballots to elect the three vice-presidents. Ken Milenko of Kakabeka Falls, Ont., Branch was elected on the first ballot. Joseph Payjack of Elmwood Branch was dropped after the second ballot. Ernie Tester of Gladstone Branch was elected on the third ballot and Gerry Lava of Kenora, Ont., Branch defeated Darwin Armstrong of Transcona Branch on the fourth.

Four were nominated for the position of chairman: incumbent Roger Oakley, John Villers of Wheat City Branch in Brandon, Ed Murray of Dryden, Ont., Branch and Bette Vance of Norwood-St. Boniface Branch. Villers and Oakley declined nomination and Vance was elected.

Former command president Rick Bennett of Fort Garry Branch was acclaimed honorary treasurer after incumbent Patrick Moore of St. James Branch declined nomination. Incumbent Sergeant-at-Arms Dennis Harvie of St. James Branch was also acclaimed.

Willis thanked delegates for their vote of confidence. In a later interview, he said he was looking forward to enhancing the Legion’s reputation, informing people about help and support of veterans, along with contributions to the community. “When people realize what we do and what we’re capable of doing, they will want to join. It will be an automatic thing: ‘Well, why not?’”

The Local Arrangements Committee from Transcona Branch, chaired by Lorne Tyson, looked after entertainment and transport of delegates and guests from hotels to the branch. 


Sign up today for a FREE download of Canada’s War Stories

Free e-book

An informative primer on Canada’s crucial role in the Normandy landing, June 6, 1944.