Little Current Legion needs new executive or branch will close

Members called to emergency meeting

LITTLE CURRENT—The bell is tolling at Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 in Little Current and this time the situation is truly grim. According to Legion stalwart Jeff Marshall, if the executive positions are not filled at a December 11 emergency election meeting the branch will close.

In fact, the Legion has already been closed at the behest of the Royal Canadian Legion’s Provincial Command following the recent resignation of the executive. “They did tell me to close it down,” said Mr. Marshall. “I got a call a little while later telling me that we had a bit of a reprieve until the 7 pm December 11 meeting, but if all the executive positions are not filled they will close it down.”

Sadly, the dwindling ranks of Second World War veterans seems to be a major factor behind the crisis facing so many Legion branches across the country.

“It is when the parent who was the veteran passes away, the kids just seem to lose interest,” said Mr. Marshall. “I think I could count the number of veterans we still have on one hand.”

Compounding the issue is the anecdotal observation that today’s veterans seem to be less engaged in the Legion than those of earlier conflicts or perhaps it is just that modern wars produce fewer veterans than were to be found in the “greatest generation.”

“Today, most people seem to look at the Legion as the place they go to help fund their ball team or hockey team,” said Mr. Marshall.

While many organizations can limp along with less than a full complement of officers, the Legion is somewhat different, he explains. “Dominion Command sets the rules down to provincial. They send them to the provincial, which then sends them on to us.”

Should the Legion be taken over by the Legion Provincial it will spell its death knell.

“They won’t take it over to run it, you can be sure of that,” suggested Mr. Marshall. The routine is well established through the example of dozens of branches that have been closed over the past decade. “They will sell off the assets to pay the bills and then sell the land,” he said.

“You should wait until after Thursday’s meeting to write your story,” suggested Royal Canadian Legion District H Commander Gerry Ferguson, who explained that if the Legion is unable to elect a president, their charter would be pulled, but he said he did not anticipate that being an issue. “I am sure that you will get a president,” he said. “I will be at the meeting.”

The dire situation does have some Legion members rallying to the cause and several longtime members have been overheard discussing the issue on the main street following an online story posted when The Expositor first learned of the issue. That story raised the ire of Ed Pigeau. “The article is full of inaccuracies,” he wrote. “Dominion Command does not take over the branch. Nor do they sell the branch assets to pay Dominion’s bills. There are specific protocols in place administered by the provincial command. Dominion Command has no direct role in the closure of a branch.”

Branch 177 public relations officer Roy Eaton sent in a comment by email from his southern wintering grounds. “It is very important there be a good turnout for the meeting of people who see the value of keeping a Legion in our community,” he said. “(People) who wish to show their support of veterans, not just on Remembrance Day, but throughout the entire year. Being a member is the first step in showing this support but active, ongoing involvement in supporting the Legion’s different activities is necessary not just for veterans and their families but for the many other youth organizations and senior activities which receive financial support from the Legion. Without continued support, we will indeed loose our Legion.”

The special emergency executive election meeting will be held on December 11 at 7 pm at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 177 hall in Little Current. Members are urged to attend and to stand for election on the executive board.