Learn. Share. Plan.
All Canadians Can Join the Legion
and Support Our Veterans
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From a young age, every Canadian knows what a poppy means.
That little red flower makes a public and personal statement about our veterans’ service and sacrifice in times of conflict, both historic and recent. When we wear our poppies, attend memorials, observe the silence and place wreaths on a cenotaph, we are celebrating, honouring and remembering the precious gift veterans have given us. And the driving force behind it all is The Royal Canadian Legion.
With 1,400 branches nationwide, the Legion works tirelessly throughout the year to help support our veterans, as well as those currently serving. The Legion collects and distributes funds for medication, food and housing, community needs and more, maintains a public profile, fosters remembrance, and organizes its members - now 270,000 strong.
As one might expect, membership is largely comprised of veterans and their families. But you may be surprised to learn that you don’t need to be affiliated with the military to join.
Nujma Bond, the Legion’s manager of communications, says that a full 25 percent of Legion membership has no familial connection with a veteran. “People are joining because they really believe in the mission,” she says, “...serving our communities, serving our veterans and promoting remembrance.”
The Legion is especially interested in reaching out and engaging young people. In 2018, It launched the Bells of Peace, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. As part of this initiative, students are encouraged to research a specific veteran and place a flag on their gravesite. “By learning a little bit about a veteran from any line of duty,” explains Ms. Bond, “they also learn about what has shaped their country.”
This preservation of history and protection of heritage is a mandate the Legion shares with Arbor Memorial. Ms. Bond says: “There are often very strong relationships between the Legion, branch members, and the local cemetery because there is a common bond in terms of family history, and military history in particular. When you have initiatives or dedications related to veterans, oftentimes, it will be a joint effort in making that commemoration a reality.”
Beyond purchasing your poppy this November (now available in digital form too), how can you offer ongoing support throughout the year? Here are a few ideas:
- Become a member of the Legion by visiting www.legion.ca or stopping in at your regional branch.
- Volunteer for varied events hosted at the local level, such as community dinners, games nights, or visiting with veterans.
- Put aside some time for a walk through a local cemetery and take a moment to stop before the resting place of a fallen soldier, cenotaph or plaque.
- Attend memorial services.
- Read and consider the names on a Wall of Remembrance.