The Royal Canadian Legion is getting ready for Remembrance Day events in an attempt to get back to a post-COVID normal. However, it seems like this year may only be one small step towards a full return.
Lori Richer, president of the Sturgeon Falls Branch 225, explains that the Legion has not gotten as many requests as they are used to for ceremonies and presentations. None of the schools in the region have made a request to have Legion members appear at Remembrance Day events, and the only two definite ceremonies were set for the Sturgeon Falls Legion Hall and at the Cache Bay cenotaph. “We used to get a bus and go around to many places,” descibes Richer, explaining that they would typically do events at all 11 schools in West Nipissing, and even in Warren.
Despite the challenges in planning things this year, Richer talks about the events that they do have planned in an optimistic and excited way. “We’ve been doing our usual poppy campaign at various location in town, which has been going on since Friday, [October 28th].” She adds that they did the traditional pinning of the poppy on Mayor Joanne Savage on November 2nd. Richer also released last year’s results of their poppy campaign, which raised $12,056.91. The funds, explains Richer, are used to help veterans with any needs they may have. “Medical equipment, hearing aids, aids for assisting in living arrangements, mobility and accessibility. Their dependants are also covered,” she explains.
On November 6th, a small ceremony was held in Cache Bay to honour the local veterans and lost soldiers. The sidewalk in front of the Cache Bay cenotaph was packed with roughly 30 people who attended the event. Richer, Legion 2nd Vice President John Hosegrove, Committee Chair Patrick Umbriaco, and general Legion member Joanne Savage each marched a flag to the cenotaph led by Sergeant of Arms Carleen Dupuis. Despite a cold wind, it was a relatively nice morning for November, and the ceremony went well. Just over a dozen wreaths were laid at the cenotaph by community members.
Richer went over the planned events for November 11th in Sturgeon Falls. The Legion has a march planned, going around the block, and ending at the cenotaph on River Street where the Legion Hall is. The mayor has confirmed she will be speaking at the event, but other invitees have yet to reply. “Marc Serré had to cancel, and we’re still waiting for a reply from John Vanthof,” says Richer, adding that the Legion extended an invitation to their offices, and that perhaps someone will show up on their behalf.