The Legion continues to make great strides towards better supporting our Veterans and their families. From the celebration of the Legoin's 90th anniversary, to the wholesale adoption of online business practices and increased service to Veterans, the Legion is demonstrating that its members are prepared to see the Legion prosper for many generations to come.
The RCL Homeless Veterans Advisory Committee met in September at Legion House. Its objective is to address Veteran homelessness through knowledge exchange, sharing best practices, and working collaboratively to address key issues. A Letter of Understanding with VETS Canada was signed in April, continued dialogue and ongoing monitoring of Veteran related issues are encouraged.
The Dominion Executive Council (DEC) approved the funding of a third Master’s Degree scholarship specializing in Military and Veteran Health Research for 2016-2017. In 2015, the $30,000 scholarship was awarded to a former Reservist, Ashleigh Forsyth, from Kingston, Ontario. The Committee also endorsed the continuation of our sponsorship of the CIMVHR Forum from 2016 to 2018.
In 2015, the Outreach and Visitation Initiative (OVI) program saw Legion volunteers visiting almost 6,000 Veterans in long term care facilities. Two OVI training courses were conducted at Legion House to train our OVI volunteers. The OVI contract was extended to 31 March 2016, and we look forward to extending the contract.
Veterans Affairs Canada agreed to sponsor and fund the development of a new National Standard of Canada for Service Dogs with the Canadian General Standards Board. The new pilot study through CIRRIS (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Rehabilitation and Social Integration) and Université Laval is now under way to evaluate the use of psychiatric service dogs as a safe and effective treatment for PTSD. As part of the study, CIRRIS is recruiting Canadian Veterans with PTSD who do not have a service dog and are willing to acquire a one from a participating training school.
Dominion Command Service Officers continue to experience a significant increase in the overall number of applications and appeals. In addition to their heavy workload, the Dominion Command Service Bureau provided assistance to Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, NS/Nunavut and Saskatchewan Commands during the changeover of their Command Service Officers.
Defence and Security
The Defence and Security Committee maintained a strong presence within the defence community through its involvement with the Conference of Defence Associations and its close liaison with the National Defence Headquarters command principals.
Dominion Command provided a “taste of home” gift bag to all deployed Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP personnel on Canada Day. Similarly, gift packages of maple products were handed out during the Christmas season as part of the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare service’s Operation Santa Claus.
During 2015, the Membership Section was restructured removing the marketing function from the administrative processing of membership.
The revamped membership section is anticipating the installation of an upgraded membership software program in 2016 to improve membership processing efficiencies. With greater control and efficiencies, new ideas and plans can now be brought to the forefront with a focus on membership recruitment, renewal and retention efforts.
Last year saw the completion of the One-By-One membership campaign which brought in approximately 500 new members to the organization. Billie Counsell of London, Ont., was the winner of the Caribbean cruise prize.
After completing a restructuring of Dominion Command Staff in September 2015, a new Marketing team was created. A social media, search engine marketing and email campaign was launched October 30 in conjunction with the Poppy campaign. It generated excellent results: a distinct increase in online membership and Poppy Store sales. The Ottawa agency Banfield has been engaged. Selected through an RFP process, Banfield’s expertise will help the team accomplish its objectives for 2016.
The Legion’s webstores have become an increasingly effective method of promoting the availability of Legion products. The exclusive members’ store had an increase in sales of 69 per cent over 2014 while the public facing Poppy store managed an impressive 61 per cent increase. Commemorative Legion products continue to be added to Canadian Armed Forces CANEX stores, and other locations. This distribution channel saw an increase of 29 per cent. Overall, supply sales were up by 33 per cent and the Supply Department handled more than 40,000 shipments in 2015.
Outreach and Communications
Each year, Dominion Command schedules approximately 166 outreach events in 262 business days. In addition, more than 60 News Releases and Letters to the Editor were distributed to the general public and Dominion Command of the Legion conducted more than 175 media interviews.
All told, approximately 11,500 articles discussed the Legion through various media outlets in 2015 and there were approximately 11, 000 Facebook, Twitter and blog posts concerning the Legion.
Poppy and Remembrance
The annual Poppy Campaign continues to be the most important project of the Legion, with more than 21 million poppies and supporting materials being distributed in 2015. Although we are still awaiting the final financial reports for 2015, an estimated $16.5 million was raised in 2014 and spent on Veterans in need.
Dominion Command assists with the arrangements for the First Poppy Presentation to the Governor General which is the ceremonial launch of the campaign. In 2015, the First Poppy presentation was held on Oct. 22. This was followed by similar ceremonial launches in each of the provincial commands with their respective lieutenant-governors.
The Poppy campaign culminates with the various Remembrance Day ceremonies across the country. Police estimated that more than 35,000 Canadians attended the National Remembrance Day Ceremony held at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Attending the national ceremony, was the National Memorial (Silver) Cross Mother for 2015-16, Sheila Anderson of Yellowknife, N.W.T.Her son, Corporal Jordan Anderson and five other Canadian soldiers and an Afghan interpreter were killed when their armoured vehicle struck an explosive device while returning from a patrol just south of Nakhonay in Panjwaii district on July 4, 2007. The Act of Remembrance was recited in English by Dominion President Tom Eagles, in French by Grand President Larry Murray and in Algonquin by Aurel Dubé.
Outstanding Cadets of the Year
Each November, the recipients of the Legion’s Outstanding Sea, Army and Air Cadet of the Year travel to Ottawa as guests of the Legion to participate in commemorative events. The trip includes a private tour of Parliament Hill (including the Memorial Chamber) and the Canadian War Museum, a luncheon at Rideau Hall co-hosted by the Governor General and Chief of the Defence Staff, and service as a Wreath Bearer for the Vice Regal Party. The outstanding cadets for 2015 were sea cadet CP01 James Robinson of Eastern Passage, NS; army cadet MWO Lucas Emery of New Maryland, NB,; and air cadet WO1 Harrison Latham of Mount Pearl, NL.
The Poster and Literary Contests are well supported by branches and Commands with over 100,000 students submitting entries from across Canada. The Senior Winners in all four categories attended the 2015 Remembrance Day Ceremony and placed a wreath on behalf of the Youth of Canada. They were Inés Carolina Fiedler of Windsor, Ont. (poem); Victoria Fisher of Minnedosa, Man (essay); Natasha Jones of North Vancouver, BC. (colour poster); and Sideqa Haqani of Ottawa (black & white poster).
Track and Field
The 2015 Legion National Youth Track and Field Championships took place Aug. 5-11 at the Stade d’athlétisme Richard-Garneau located in Sainte-Thérèse, Que. In attendance were 328 Legion-sponsored athletes, 36 chaperones and 28 coaches representing all 10 provincial commands. There were also 602 open category athletes and 130 coaches.
For Legion athletes, the program continued to consist of, a clinic, practice sessions, social activities and the meet. The Remembrance theme for 2015 was the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Holland and the end of the Second World War.
Quebec Lieutenant-Governor Pierre Duchesne attended the opening ceremonies as the official guest speaker. Also in attendance was Dutch Defence Attaché Lieutenant-Colonel Christa Oppers-Beumer and local dignitaries
The curling championships were hosted by Birch Hills, Sask., Branch in March. The winning team was from Chilliwack, BC., Branch.
The cribbage championships, hosted in April by the Spruce Grove, Alta., Branch saw the team title go to the Fairview-Halifax Branch, Halifax. The doubles competition was won by Tecumseh Branch in Stoughton, Sask. The team title went to the Fairview-Halifax Branch, Halifax.
The darts championships were hosted by the Cloverdale Branch in Surrey, B.C., in May. The singles title went to Charlottetown, PE. Branch while the doubles competition winners were from Blyth, Ont., Branch. The team winners were from the Portugal Cove Branch in Portugal Cove, N.L.
The Legion’s eight ball championships were held in March and hosted by Calgary Branch. The singles title went to the Calgary Branch. The doubles competition winners were from Labrador City, NL, Branch. Finally, the team title went to members of Team Alberta-N.W.T., from the Bowness Branch in Calgary and Robertson Memorial Branch from Medicine Hat.
Following a recommendation by the Dominion Sports Committee, DEC suspended the Dominion eight Ball and curling championships for 2016 because they were no longer national in scope.
Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services
There were 103 Veterans and 108 Veterans’ widows receiving assistance from The Royal Canadian Legion in 2015. Legion programs are centered on the provision of individual assistance and a total of $ 167,231 was distributed. Visits conducted in 2015 included Dominica, Bahamas and Antigua. The RCL plans to visit the Caribbean every two years and will alternate countries visited. No individual site visits are planned for 2016.
Ritual and Awards
A total of 108 applications were reviewed by the Committee. At the DEC meeting in February of 2015, approval was given authorizing the wearing of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier lapel pin on Legion Dress from November 1, 2015 to November 30, 2016. This lapel pin commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the First World War can be worn “We Support Our Troops” lapel pin for this period.
Constitution and Laws
This committee continued its work of advising the organization and its members on constitutional matters arising from the interpretation of the Act of Incorporation and The General By-Laws. The committee also reviewed and adopted amendments to most Provincial Command General By-Laws. A noted achievement was outlining the powers of International Zones in the General By-Laws and formalizing their legal status as it relates to the Act to Incorporate.
The Committee reviewed Dominion Convention proceedings and succeeded in reducing the duration of the convention by one day. It also changed the timing of future Dominion Conventions; starting in 2018, they will be held in late-August. All preparations are moving forward for an exceptional Dominion Convention in St. John’s N.L. June 11-15. The theme of the convention is Looking Back to See Ahead.
This Committee finalized and formatted subject content for website placement and developed the chronology of lessons flow charts, one for new members and one for continuing members. The subject modules will be available for use in 2016.
This past year’s achievements on behalf of Veterans, combined with the Legion’s wholesale adoption of doing business online, reinforces its commitment to being a service-oriented organization. In 2015, the Legion built on its 90-year legacy and positioned itself for an even brighter future.
For further information please contact Bruce Poulin at Dominion Command, The Royal Canadian Legion at (613) 591-3335 ext. 241 or by cell at (613) 292-8760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.