P.E.I. legions lose one-quarter of members during pandemic

·2 min read
Owen Parkhouse would like to see more younger veterans joining the legion. (Rick Gibbs/CBC - image credit)
Owen Parkhouse would like to see more younger veterans joining the legion. (Rick Gibbs/CBC - image credit)

The 17 legions on P.E.I. have lost a lot of members over the last year, but remain hopeful they will come back once the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease.

Owen Parkhouse, 1st vice-president of the Royal Canadian Legion provincial command and membership chair on P.E.I., said membership across the province has been fairly steady at about 2,000, but currently there are just 1,500.

"Predominantly it can be blamed on the pandemic. With legions having to close and restrict activities, and follow all the social distancing rules and regulations," said Parkhouse.

"There couldn't be the same sort of activities that there were — with dances and bingos and fundraisers and socializing — that is typically associated with the legion. It's been very difficult for the leadership of the legion as well as the members, because it really is a place to socialize and kick off your shoes and relax and enjoy some time with fellow Islanders."

Parkhouse would like to see membership in the legion grown beyond pre-pandemic levels.

The legion is the ‘guardian of remembrance’ in Canada, said Owen Parkhouse.
The legion is the ‘guardian of remembrance’ in Canada, said Owen Parkhouse.(Ken Linton/CBC)

He noted that membership was recently opened to anyone over the age 18.

Joining the legion is a great way to support veterans, said Parkhouse. It is the legion that pays for the national Remembrance Day service in Ottawa, he said. He'd also like to see more younger veterans joining, such as those involved in peacekeeping operations and in the Afghan War.

Membership comes with benefits such as businesses offering discounts for goods and services, but as restrictions on socializing end, he said the number one benefit is spending time with like-minded people.

"People are going to be looking forward to that socializing and what better place to do that than your local legion?" he said.

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