Representatives from 14 veterans organizations met with Legion officials at Legion House in Kanata, Ont., Nov. 16 to discuss developing a closer relationship.
Legion Honorary Grand President Charles Belzile, the chairman of the Dominion Command Veterans Unity Committee, chaired the meeting which was also attended by Dominion President Jack Frost, Dominion Secretary Duane Daly and Membership Committee Chairman Erl Kish. Also representing the Legion at the meeting were Defence Committee Chairman Lou Cuppens and member Buster Brown and Lewis MacKenzie, a member of the Veterans Unity Committee.
The Legion provided a full briefing on the Legion’s organization and the range and strength of its various programs. The Legion was founded in 1926 when the Great War Veterans Association brought together many different veterans organizations that had formed after World War I. Today, its programs include seniors housing projects, the National Track and Field Championships for youth aged 13 to 17, the Legion Youth Leaders’ Pilgrimage of Remembrance, support for the Encounters With Canada program, national literary and poster contests, the National Remembrance Day Ceremony and support for hundreds of cadet corps and boy scout and girl guide troops. Local charities receive about $11.1 million from Legion branches.
The Legion’s military support programs include support for the Canadian Forces championships and show tours, Operation Santa Claus for troops serving abroad, the Nijmegen Marches, Fisher House in Europe and Legion House at Ste-Anne’s Hospital for veterans and the RCL Troop Morale Fund which provides Tim Hortons gift certificates for Canadian Forces membersstationed at Kandahar Airfield.
Following the briefing, there was a full discussion on the future way ahead to sustain the strength and viability of the veterans community.
The Legion highlighted what it considered to be the future objectives and goals for the veterans community and suggested a possible way to sustain identity and achieve those goals would be through some form of federation with the Legion. Although there was no agreement to any specific future course of action, the delegates carried a motion to continue dialogue and to meet again in October 2008.
“The response from all was verypositive,” said Daly. “They complimented the Legion on taking the initiative to gather the various associations together to discuss the future and indicated their desire to review future options with their own members before the October meeting.”
Besides the Legion, the meeting was attended by members of the Army, Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada, the Air Force Association of Canada, Canadian Veterans in UN Peacekeeping, Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association, the Royal Canadian Naval Association, Canadian Naval Air Group, Canadian Divers Association, NATO Veterans Association, Korea Veterans Association, Canadian Merchant Navy Veterans Association, Naval Officers Association, RCMP Veterans Association, National Aboriginal Veterans Association and Gulf War Veterans Association.