Dominion Command and Legion committees put into effect the decisions of the dominion convention where Legion members set the course for our organization. They also concern themselves with the administration of the Legion which includes the chartering of branches, the issuance of membership cards, the planning of the annual distribution of poppies, the promotion of youth and member sports and dozens of other business items. Legion advocacy also remains a top priority for the organization. The following is a brief picture of the Legion’s activities and important milestones for 2012.
The Legion marked the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s ascension to the throne. To help celebrate, the Government of Canada minted 60,000 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medals for distribution to exceptional Canadians. As a partner organization, the Legion was allocated approximately 980 medals for distribution.
The 44th Dominion Convention of The Royal Canadian Legion was held in Halifax in June. About 1,100 delegates from branches in every province and territory, the United States and Europe as well as invited guests attended this biennial gathering for the consideration of their proposed 86 resolutions and to discuss the contributions the Legion could make to the well-being of our veterans, our members and the unity of our country.
Members acclaimed Gordon Moore from Waterloo, Ont., as the new dominion president and elected Tom Eagles from Plaster Rock, N.B., as the first vice. Elected as dominion vice-presidents were David Flannigan, Ed Pigeau and Peter Piper and the members re-elected Dominion Chairman Tom Irvine and Dominion Treasurer Michael Cook.
The inaugural presentation of The Royal Canadian Legion Founders Award was made to Paul Gross, writer, producer, director and star of the film Passchendaele. The Founders Award is given to an individual or an organization from outside the Legion for extraordinary achievement in an area that exemplifies and advances the purposes and objects of the Legion in the spirit and vision of our founding members.
While many issues were discussed, one announcement stood out: the adoption of the Leave The Streets Behind program and the commitment of $500,000 to expand or put in place this program for homeless veterans across the country.
Service Bureau And Veterans, Service and Seniors
At Legion House, business related to advocating for our veterans continued. The Service Bureau Network continued to provide representation services to veterans of all ages, including serving Canadian Forces (CF) and RCMP members, and their families while handling a large number of requests for benevolent support, and access to the Veterans Independence Program, long-term care and other services from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). The Service Bureau also provided assistance with appeals for Permanent Impairment Allowance and other benefits under the New Veterans Charter.
Dominion Command service officers presented appeals and reconsiderations to the Veterans Review and Appeal Board (VRAB) in April in Ottawa and in October in Charlottetown. Notwithstanding the significant turnover rate of command service officers in the last two years, some 14 command service officers in all, the number of claims handled by all Legion command service officers across the country increased.
Throughout the year, the Service Bureau Service Network increased the Legion’s outreach through co-ordination with the Integrated Personnel Support Centres (IPSC) on Canadian Forces bases and with briefings at Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) seminars in Ottawa and assisting Manitoba-Northwestern Ontario and Quebec Commands with similar briefings. The Service Bureau also hosted kiosks at the Canadian Forces Family Appreciation Day in Ottawa, dominion convention in Halifax in June and the Army Run in Ottawa in September. There was also the biannual Command Service Officers Professional Development Seminar that was held in Charlottetown in October.
The Legion attended several meetings with senior government officials to discuss a range of issues affecting veterans including the National Homeless Veterans Program, the expansion of the Veterans Transition Program, funeral and burial benefits and the continuation of the Long-Term Care Surveyor Program.
Veterans Consultation Group
Seventeen veterans’ organizations met in early November 2012 to discuss issues related to veterans including improvements to the New Veterans Charter, transformation issues at VAC, the funeral and burial benefits for veterans and the Veterans Ombudsman recommendations regarding the Veterans Review and Appeal Board.
Defence And Security
The Defence and Security Committee maintained a strong presence within the defence community through its involvement with the Conference of Defence Associations and its close liaison with the National Defence Headquarters principals. The committee continues to work in conjunction with Atomic Motion in regard to the development of the Virtual Legion project now named Legion Connect. This important milestone is expected to be operating on the Internet in 2013.
Marketing And Membership
Renewal notices were sent out to members again this year. The notice provides a friendly reminder to members that payment was not received. It a successful program generating a response rate of more than 32 per cent, resulting in more than 22,000 membership renewals.
In May a nationwide recruitment campaign was conducted, with more than 155 branches participating. Branches were provided with kits consisting of material required to help conduct their recruitment campaigns. Statistics indicate a slight increase of new members from the previous year.
More than 600 branches received certificates in the new Membership Achievement Award Program created in 2011. This award is presented to branches that achieved 100 per cent or more of their previous year’s paid membership. The intent of these continuing efforts is to achieve the highest membership retention where possible and growth.
Seen from this perspective, the Legion developed a plan that bypasses the media and deals directly with internal and external audiences–again with a view to addressing membership issues.
Part of this new proactive approach required a restructuring at Dominion Command. This included the creation of a manager of communications and a marketing co-ordinator—both of whom report to a new director of Marketing and Membership. It also included the renaming of the Public Relations Committee to that of the Outreach Committee complete with a new set of terms of reference. In the meantime, normal operations continued with respect to website management, providing catalogue support to both Supply and, in particular, the Service Bureau.
The fourth quarter of the year saw increases in the Legion’s outreach efforts and media presence directly attributable to this new organizational structure. The Legion is also taking a more independent approach to its relationship with the federal government to better reflect our commitment to the Legion’s bylaws.
Poppy And Remembrance
The annual Poppy Campaign continues to be the most important Legion fundraising project of the year. Dominion Command is honoured to assist with the arrangements for the First Poppy Presentation which is the ceremonial launch of the campaign. The First Poppy Presentation to our patron, the Governor General, was held on Oct. 24 with similar ceremonial launches in each of the provincial commands.
The year ended much as it began: achieving another milestone at the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa. Notwithstanding the intermittent rain, local police officials estimated that more than 40,000 Canadians attended.
The National Silver Cross Mother for 2012-13 was Roxanne Priede of Grand Forks, B.C. She is the mother of Master Corporal Darrell Priede, a military image technician who died while serving in Afghanistan in May 2007. The Act of Remembrance was recited in English by Dominion President Gordon Moore, in French by Grand President Larry Murray and in Maliseet by Eldon Bernard.
Outstanding Cadets Of The Year
Each November, the recipients of the Legion’s Outstanding Sea, Army and Air Cadet of the Year travel to Ottawa as guests of the Legion to participate in commemorative events. The highlight of their trip was to serve as wreath-bearers for the viceregal party in the national Remembrance Day ceremony. The Outstanding Cadets this year were air cadet Corporal Alexander Mahtab of Halifax, sea cadet Chief Petty Officer Beth-Anne Bruce of Tofield, Alta., and army cadet Chief Warrant Officer Julie LeBlanc of Moncton, N.B.
Youth Education And Poster And Literary Contests
The Poster and Literary Contests are well supported by branches and commands, which has resulted in a steady increase in student participation. Approximately 100,000 students submitted entries for these contests. The four senior winners were brought to Ottawa to participate in the Remembrance Day ceremony. The national winners were: Sienna (Jeong Eun) Cho of Surrey, B.C. (colour poster); Owen Brown of Guelph, Ont. (black and white poster); Amelia Haines of Peel, N.B. (essay); and Allison Somers of Carbonear, Nfld. (poem).
National Track And Field Championships
While on the subject of youth, the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships took place in August at the University of Prince Edward Island Athletic Facility located in Charlottetown. The total attendance was 331 Legion sponsored athletes, 36 chaperones and 25 coaches representing all 10 commands. In addition, there were 486 open category athletes.
The Legion National Youth Track and Field program was named as one of three finalists for the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance (CSTA) Canadian Sport Event of the Year. The awards presentation formed part of the CSTA Sports Event Congress held in Richmond, B.C., in April.
The Legion, as the originator, organizer and main supporter of the Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships and its associated provincial programs was awarded, at the Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame’s 40th Canadian Sport Awards, the Corporate Excellence Award which recognizes and celebrates a corporation that provides outstanding support to Canadian sport.
The curling championships were hosted by the three branches in Saskatoon in March. The winning team was from Meadow Lake, Sask., Branch.
In cribbage championship play, hosted in April by Innisfail, Alta., Branch, the singles competition was won by Len Zema of Elmwood Branch in Winnipeg. The doubles competition was won by Vernon and Mary Bone from Marysville Branch in Fredericton. The team title went to Grand Falls, Nfld., Branch.
The darts championships were hosted by North Vancouver Branch in May. The singles title went to John Verwey from Blyth, Ont., Branch while the doubles competition winners were Keith Way and Elvis Beaudoin from Vincent Massey Branch in Yellowknife. The team winners were Carleton Branch in Saint John, N.B.
This year marked the first Dominion Command Eight-Ball Championship organized by the Legion and hosted by Britannia Branch in Victoria in May. The singles title went to Albert Ducharme from Norwood-St. Boniface Branch in Winnipeg. The doubles competition winners were Lawrence Wilson and Curtis Beech from Britannia Branch. Finally, the team title went to Britannia Branch.
Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League
The RCEL continued its work by granting assistance to 156 Caribbean veterans and 126 widows in that region. Assistance granted was approximately $271,459 including medical grants, administrative grants and poppy material assistance.
Ritual And Awards
The Ritual and Awards Committee met monthly to ensure that applications for major Legion awards were reviewed in a timely manner. A total of 106 applications were reviewed. In May, the committee also had published the revised version of the Chaplain’s Manual. Immediately following convention, the committee embarked on a review of all committee manuals with a goal of consolidating three (Ritual and Insignia, Honours and Awards and National Honours) into one comprehensive manual. In August a Ritual and Awards section was added to the Legion website, www.legion.ca.
Another Legion milestone was the creation of the Legion Web Store. This web store and direct-to-member catalogues service accounted for more than 18 per cent of total annual supply sales, which were up six per cent from the previous year. The Poppy Campaign saw more than 17,400,000 poppies distributed. Supply also produced items to commemorate the Legion’s 2012 theme, 70 Years of Women In Canadian Military Service. This past year, supply handled nearly 37,000 shipments from the Ottawa distribution centre and another 2,500 drop shipments direct from the manufacturer.
Constitution And By-Laws
The Constitution and Laws Committee continued its work of advising the organization and its members on constitutional matters arising from the interpretation of the Act of Incorporation and The General By-Laws. The committee proposed and adopted amendments to the General By-Laws as well as reviewed and approved amendments to the general bylaws of many provincial commands.
The Legion achieved yet another milestone with the creation of the Leadership Development Committee. Its aim is to develop the programs and educational tools necessary to promote leadership at each level of the Legion.
From dominion convention to new Legion committees, to a new sports championship, to a new Legion Founders Award and a new Marketing and Membership department at Dominion Command. All of these milestones enhance the pride of our members and strengthen their resolve to be even more effective in the future.