Special to the Gazette
More than a century has passed since the end of the First World War, but the effects can still be felt today. Millions of Canadians wear a poppy to honour those who served. There are annual ceremonies, school visits, and a moment of silence to honour those who died in battle.
What do these events have in common? The Royal Canadian Legion. Established in 1925, the non-profit society ensures soldiers’ efforts are remembered though these events and provide support and a social spot for veterans all over Canada.
Norm Scott, president of Branch 91 in Langford, said the “number one thing” about Remembrance Day is remembering those who served, and for those that have fought for our freedoms.
“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have what we have,” he said. “And that’s not just WWI or WWII, if it’s not these vets, [it’s veterans] that have gone to Korea, that have gone to Afghanistan, that have gone to the Commonwealth, that have gone all over the world to try and unfortunately fight battles in some ways of no return, but in other ways of success, and that has given us what we have today. And we have to be thankful, no matter what.”
For Scott, he thinks of those he lost in wars and beyond on Remembrance Day.
“I think of my grandfather who was in the war. I think of my dad who was in the forces. I think of not just veterans, I think of people that I’ve lost, and I treat them as an act of remembrance,” he said.
The Royal Canadian Legion was founded by veterans as a way to support those coming out of the forces, those currently in, and their family members. Services include financial assistance, providing mental health resources, and of course, keeping the memory of their service alive. The Royal Canadian Legion branch in Langford includes space for several community groups including the Goldstream Food Bank, helping serve those in need, which can include veterans.
A quick look at the Legion’s newsletter also reveals it to be quite the social hub. Scott said having entertainment activities such as darts, shuffleboard, and regular music nights means veterans adjusting can “relax” and be “comfortable and be safe in their environment.
“Any veteran can come here and they’re welcome,” he added. “It doesn’t matter if they’re a member or non-member, whatever. This is their home.”
Keeping the Legion’s mission afloat – both in Langford and at branches nationwide – comes in part from their annual poppy campaign. Through the Poppy Fund and similar fundraisers, the Langford branch alone donates more than $90,000 a year to support veterans and their families, thanks to volunteer support.
For more information about Branch 91, check out their website, rcl91.ca.