Canora branch among area Legions to receive federal funding

Royal Canadian Legion members across the region have been advised that financial support will be coming their way through the Veterans Organizations Emergency Support Fund (VOESF), a program of Veterans Affairs Canada. The VOESF provides grants to non-profit and registered charitable organizations that support veterans and their families, according to a release. The grants are intended to help organizations with operational costs and financial shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The branches of the Royal Canadian Legion located within Yorkton-Melville receiving funding include:

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  • Foam Lake—$13,585
  • Kamsack—     $6,625
  • Quill Lake— $10,000
  • Canora—        $5,000
  • Melville—    $15,605
  • Pleasantdale—$3,440
  • Esterhazy—  $14,871
  • Norquay—      $3,800
  • Sheho—        $12,560
  • Yorkton—     $15,605         

Pat Thompson, President of the Canora branch, said the $5,000 in grant money was much needed and appreciated.

“When news of this first came out it was a sigh of relief for many area Legions that were struggling financially, ours included,” said Thompson. “The money will be for operational needs. It will be used to pay monthly utilities and bills to keep the Legion open. Also the money will go to repairs that are needed at the Legion Dugout and contingency for any unforeseen issues that should arise.”

Thompson said the history of the Canora branch goes back to before the Great Depression.

“The Legion charter in this community was officially granted in 1928,” she explained. “So yes, this organization has been in our community supporting veterans and their families and the community for many years. The memories and community activities that are Legion-bound are important to our community, such as the Poppy Campaign and Remembrance Day Service and the school programs. We hope to continue to keep these functions and activities in Canora and the surrounding area that our Canora Branch serves.”

 

Cathay Wagantall, Member of Parliament for Yorkton-Melville, also sits on the Standing Committee for Veterans Affairs. Wagantall said she is very pleased to see government support coming to assist Legions with the work they do to support veterans, having heard first-hand of the challenges facing our veterans.

“In my work with the Standing Committee for Veterans Affairs, I receive calls from veterans from right across Canada who are seriously struggling, mentally and financially,” said Wagantall in the release. “Many feel abandoned by their government due to a backlog of outstanding disability claims and issues with other services, but the one place those veterans can continue to turn to is the Legion.”

Wagantall said at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, the executive director of the Canadian Legion Saskatchewan Command testified about the efficient work being done to care for the immediate needs of “our veterans.”

According to Wagantall, Executive Director Chad Wagner said Saskatchewan Command has the ability to assist quickly in areas that might not be as easy to access on a federal level.

“Mr. Wagner testified they can have a veteran come into their office at 10 a.m. in need of shelter, food or medical attention. Throughout their various networks – be it Social Services, Legion branches or various service groups – they can have housing established, food provided, and usually a stream of income through Social Services, plus they can set up medical appointments and start the process for Veterans Affairs benefit claims, all by the end of the day. It's all in the process and removing barriers, and it starts with empowering the front line.

“The caring and efficient work of our Saskatchewan Command and local Legions is, and could be, even more significant in ensuring immediate emergency support and timely care for our veterans and their families, if the process was less onerous,” said Wagantall.

VOESF’s entire aid package was totaled at $20 million, with $14 million of that allocated to Legion branches across Canada. Legions had an opportunity to apply for first-round funding in November and December, with an addition call for applications from Legions anticipated in January.