Legion Branch #195 Holds Remembrance Ceremonies

The Legion has experienced a facelift of sorts over the duration of the pandemic, and Legion members would like to showcase the Hall, and while it is smaller than the Rec Centre, it will make for a more intimate space where members and the public can relax and enjoy the camaraderie of friends and neighbours.

The Wakaw Legion members have already or are today assisting with ceremonies at the schools in the area. An Act of Remembrance was held on Tuesday November 8th at the Almightyvoice Education Centre on the One Arrow First Nation, and at Cudworth and Wakaw Schools on Wednesday November 9th. Today the schools in Bellevue and St. Louis are holding their Remembrance Day ceremonies.

The Wakaw Legion Branch #195 is currently selling tickets for their “12 Days of Christmas Raffle” featuring Christmas Day in a Basket. The highly popular fundraiser regularly sells out. With only 1200 tickets being sold and the price of tickets only $5, it’s understandable why this is a favourite fundraiser with local people. The raffle consists of 12 draws for 12 baskets containing roughly $150 (retail value) of food stuffs including turkey, stuffing, cranberries, ham, perogies, cabbage rolls, chocolates and more. The draws will happen on December 6th at 7:30 pm and winners will be notified. Legion members will be selling tickets for this and the few remaining Grey Cup tickets they have available, at the Legion Hall following the Remembrance Day service.

The Royal Canadian Legion believes in the “power of people working together”. As an organization, The Legion is a democratic, non-partisan, and member-based, endeavouring to make a difference in the lives of Veterans from the military and the RCMP members and their families; supporting communities and the country while always remembering the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice. The Legion is not affiliated with any political party or organization and we do not accept financial assistance from any government party for our operations. However, Branches are able to pursue grants through federal, provincial or municipal government programs for initiatives outside of normal operations. These grants are available to all not-for-profits, and Legions only use the funds as defined in the grant guidelines.

The Wakaw Legion currently has about 60 members who are dedicated to fulfilling the mandate of the Legion. Established in 1926, The Royal Canadian Legion is Canada’s largest Veteran support and community service organization. The Wakaw Branch No. 195 was granted its Charter on January 15th, 1935, with the following as Charter members: Rev. Arthur Littlewood, Charles Clare, Gladstone McPhail, Andrew Fraser, Louis Lepine, William Reid, Henry Fast, George Dierker, Thomas Presley, William Halbert, William Thompson, John Utting, David Krahn, Moses Smith and Robert Gammie. A special meeting was called on March 16th, 1950, to discuss plans to purchase the stucco school in Wakaw. On July 4th of that same year, a tentative agreement was read to the members present at the meeting held that day, where discussion was also held regarding the selling of the building and property located on Main Street. A motion was made to move into the new facilities as soon as the tentative agreement was finalized.

Then in 1961, a delegation from the Legion met with Wakaw Town Council to request a grant and a site for a Cenotaph in front of the new town office. According to information found in the Wakaw history book, it seems that the Town was not in favour of such a location as it is recorded that after “many meetings and hot discussions” the Legion agreed to locate the Cenotaph on the Legion property to the south of their building where it remains today. The dedication of the Cenotaph occurred on August 4th, 1965.

In 1985, the Wakaw Legion Branch #195 hosted a reunion and most of the veterans from the Wakaw district returned to reunite with former friends and fellow veterans. Two families which returned for the occasion were the Ferguson and Doktor families, who had five veterans each within their families.

Wakaw Legion Branch #195 is doing very well with grants from Dominion Command in Ottawa for the recent improvement to the hall. A new deck has been built in the front with a gas BBQ set up; the hardwood floors re-done; also a new door installed in the back for the emergency exit. The Branch has funds from fundraising for new chairs which will be purchased soon. A large part of funding for Legion Branches is through fundraising. Branch members volunteer their time to organize fundraising activities such as BBQs, dinners, bingos and meat draws to raise additional monies for operations and programming. The improvements to the Wakaw Branch Hall were mostly from the general branch fund & not the Poppy Fund.

Whatever monies made from selling wreaths & poppies can only go for assisting veterans, or for use for the wheelchair ramp and accessibility improvements at the hall. Through the donations to the Legion Poppy Fund, the Legion provides financial assistance and support to Veterans, including Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP, and their families who are in need. Poppy Funds may only be used for: grants for food, heating costs, clothing, prescription medication, medical appliances and equipment, essential home repairs and emergency shelter or assistance for Veterans and their families in need; housing accommodation and care facilities for Veterans; funding for Veteran Transition Programs that are directly related to the training, education and supporting the needs of Veterans and their families; comforts for Veterans and their surviving spouses who are hospitalized and in need; Veterans visits, transportation and day trips; accessibility modifications to assist Veterans with disabilities; educational bursaries for children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of Veterans; support of cadet units; Veteran drop-in centres and services in communities where Veterans would benefit; community medical appliances, medical training and medical research which will assist in the care of Veterans in the community; support the work of Legion Command and Branch Service Officers across Canada in assisting and representing Veterans; donations for relief of disasters declared by federal or provincial governments which impact Veterans in those communities; and promotion and administering of Remembrance activities to ensure Canadians never forget the sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans.

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder