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Survey on Future Remembrance Ceremonies

Kilted

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The point is not whether they are religious or cultural. The court decision does not ban any ceremonies; it simply says government doesn't do them. COs and chaplains are supposed to assist members in holding such ceremonies, but don't run them under command authority any more. Theoretically personnel should not be coerced into attending, but we all know the guys with the pacesticks don't always understand.
In other words "soldier driven" is OK; "command driven" is not.
I wonder if we may start seeing Regimental Colours handed over to Regimental Associations, who in turn entrust them to the Regimental Churches.

Or perhaps we might see some sets of colours get "stolen" and magically appear in Regimental Churches.
 

tonykeene

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As a journalist, soldier and veteran I have been tracking the Legion for several decades. Here are some of the things I've discovered:

The Legion has about 240,000 members, and has been losing about 10,000 members every year, for the past 30 years, or even longer.

The Ordinary membership, which includes veterans, totals about 50,000. However, many of these are police (The Legion is a natural cop hangout; they can go there and party without running into anyone they've run in, if you get my meaning.) Coast Guard, foreign military and so on. It is statistically likely that only about 30,000 of these members have Canadian military service. Remember our Coast Guard is not an armed service.

The Legion is overwhelmingly white, and male. The average member is a blue-collar white guy with no post-secondary education.

The Legion maintains, in the third decade of the 21st Century, something called a "Ladies Auxiliary." This should make any female CF member squirm, and no doubt does.

Over the past four decades the Legion has been involved in an ever-increasing number of racist and intolerant incidents, well documented in the media, including a branch that allied itself with a skinhead group called The Warriors of Odin, and a branch that mocked and insulted Sikh men who were taking part in a billiards event. These incidents involve Blacks, Sikh, Native people and gays.

In Campbellford, Ont. a Halloween contest was won by a guy in Klan robes towing an Al Jolson lookalike on a rope. The branch president was chief judge. I'm not making this up.

A Legion branch newsletter a few years ago contained a brutal racist "joke" about Native people, and in B.C. a decorated Sikh veteran ( a retired lieutenant-colonel) was denied entry to a Branch because he wouldn't take off his turban.

The Legion bitterly opposed the introduction of the Sikh turban into the RCMP and CF uniform.

The Legion embraced the former government's decision to strip veterans of their lifetime commitment to care. To quote the president:

"It must be understood that this is something we (the Legion) can get behind. We want this legislation."

She might as well have picked up a set of pompoms and gone "Sis, Boom, Bah!"

None of this of course detracts from the fact that the Legion provides invaluable service to veterans. I am a recipient of this and will be forever grateful.

But nonetheless a loss of 10,000 members per annum means a loss of about $500,000 each year in membership dues alone, not to mention the loss of the people themselves. The Legion will probably wink out of existence in fewer than 20 years. As Thomas Andrews said to Capt. Smith: "It's a mathematical certainly. She will founder."

The numbers are as inexorable as they are irrefutable.

This means that the 700,000 former CF members in this country (and more to come) will no longer have anyone to intercede for them with VAC.

Then what?
 

dapaterson

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I'll risk pre-empting @mariomike, but there's a lengthy thread on the legion at:

 

lenaitch

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In terms of Remembrance day, if not the Legion then who? Government? Local community committees? With federal funding or one their own? At least with the Legion - like them or not - ceremonies take place in thousands of communities across the country, simultaneously, in (roughly) the same format. If left up to each community, possibly with corporate 'help' and a commitment to why the ceremony is taking place, I can image what some would turn into. Heck, most would be hard pressed to know basic flag protocols.
 

quadrapiper

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I wonder if we may start seeing Regimental Colours handed over to Regimental Associations, who in turn entrust them to the Regimental Churches.

Or perhaps we might see some sets of colours get "stolen" and magically appear in Regimental Churches.
Hope retired Colours start finding their way into local municipal buildings, library main branches, arenas, etc. For that matter, unless a given church is entirely and absolutely on board with CAF values re: equality, etc., pull any laid-up Colours from their facilities.
The Legion maintains, in the third decade of the 21st Century, something called a "Ladies Auxiliary." This should make any female CF member squirm, and no doubt does.
I thought the LA had died out. In some ways it's the most peculiar on the list: most of the rest's whack-a-mole local bigotry, where the LA is something the RCL could simply stand down.
In terms of Remembrance day, if not the Legion then who? Government? Local community committees? With federal funding or one their own? At least with the Legion - like them or not - ceremonies take place in thousands of communities across the country, simultaneously, in (roughly) the same format. If left up to each community, possibly with corporate 'help' and a commitment to why the ceremony is taking place, I can image what some would turn into. Heck, most would be hard pressed to know basic flag protocols.
Off the top of my head, the only outfit as geographically pervasive as the RCL is cadet corps/squadrons. Not terribly useful for some aspects (really not enough pay to cover off dealing with permits, police, wreaths, PA, etc.), though for others, they're already pretty well embedded (sentries, flag party either wholly or in part, band, etc.) in rural areas. Biggest ceremonial hassle would likely be (if a non-Legion option were chosen) the bunfight over parade commander and to a lesser extent MC. Veteran? If so, then who? CAF member? If so, then senior locally resident (which'll mean CIC in a lot of places), or selected in some other way?

Community organized means probably ending up with local politicians getting a speaking part.

Entirely agreed on getting rid of the religious aspect at the cenotaph: if someone wants to host a service earlier in the day, whether single or multifaith, go for it. The Silence serves quite well enough for whatever form of reflection and connection with the infinite each person attending might prefer.
 

Kilted

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I thought the LA had died out. In some ways it's the most peculiar on the list: most of the rest's whack-a-mole local bigotry, where the LA is something the RCL could simply stand down.
Most Legion's couldn't survive without the LA. They put in a lot of work behind the scenes. My unit (including female members) have a good relationship with them. It should be noted that women can be members of the Legion without being members of the LA.
 

Good2Golf

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Most Legion's couldn't survive without the LA. They put in a lot of work behind the scenes. My unit (including female members) have a good relationship with them. It should be noted that women can be members of the Legion without being members of the LA.
Can males, or non-binary gendered people be part of the Ladies Auxiliary?
 

Kilted

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Can males, or non-binary gendered people be part of the Ladies Auxiliary?
I'm sure they could. The Legion is not a government organization, they don't have to bow to every politically correct notion of the day. It is a good thing that the Legion is responsible for the majority of Remembrance Day services, it is a way to insolate them from the government. As much as everyone on here hates the Legion, there are a lot of important jobs that they do. I don't think that the average person would nearly be as knowable about Remembrance Day and in extension the CAF itself. The Legion is a significant asset. Maybe people don't like them because they are full of old people, which apparently it isn't politically correct to have been born before 1960 anymore. It is true that the majority of Legion members have never served, but the Legion couldn't survive without them. Maybe if everyone who complained about the Legion actually joined their local branch, that ratio would be much different and they could actually express their concerns.
 

Fishbone Jones

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Maybe if everyone who complained about the Legion actually joined their local branch, that ratio would be much different and they could actually express their concerns.
I complain about the Legion, but I'm not a member.........anymore. After 37 years of fighting the old boys club, then the civies that replaced them, I'd had enough. Toward the end, after switching legions three times because of closures, that was it.
 

daftandbarmy

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Can males, or non-binary gendered people be part of the Ladies Auxiliary?
seth meyers lol GIF by Late Night with Seth Meyers
 

Furniture

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As a journalist, soldier and veteran I have been tracking the Legion for several decades. Here are some of the things I've discovered:

The Legion has about 240,000 members, and has been losing about 10,000 members every year, for the past 30 years, or even longer.

1) The Ordinary membership, which includes veterans, totals about 50,000. However, many of these are police (The Legion is a natural cop hangout; they can go there and party without running into anyone they've run in, if you get my meaning.) Coast Guard, foreign military and so on. It is statistically likely that only about 30,000 of these members have Canadian military service. Remember our Coast Guard is not an armed service.

2) The Legion is overwhelmingly white, and male. The average member is a blue-collar white guy with no post-secondary education.


The Legion maintains, in the third decade of the 21st Century, something called a "Ladies Auxiliary." This should make any female CF member squirm, and no doubt does.

3) Over the past four decades the Legion has been involved in an ever-increasing number of racist and intolerant incidents, well documented in the media, including a branch that allied itself with a skinhead group called The Warriors of Odin, and a branch that mocked and insulted Sikh men who were taking part in a billiards event. These incidents involve Blacks, Sikh, Native people and gays.

In Campbellford, Ont. a Halloween contest was won by a guy in Klan robes towing an Al Jolson lookalike on a rope. The branch president was chief judge. I'm not making this up.

A Legion branch newsletter a few years ago contained a brutal racist "joke" about Native people, and in B.C. a decorated Sikh veteran ( a retired lieutenant-colonel) was denied entry to a Branch because he wouldn't take off his turban.

The Legion bitterly opposed the introduction of the Sikh turban into the RCMP and CF uniform.

The Legion embraced the former government's decision to strip veterans of their lifetime commitment to care. To quote the president:

"It must be understood that this is something we (the Legion) can get behind. We want this legislation."

She might as well have picked up a set of pompoms and gone "Sis, Boom, Bah!"

None of this of course detracts from the fact that the Legion provides invaluable service to veterans. I am a recipient of this and will be forever grateful.

But nonetheless a loss of 10,000 members per annum means a loss of about $500,000 each year in membership dues alone, not to mention the loss of the people themselves. The Legion will probably wink out of existence in fewer than 20 years. As Thomas Andrews said to Capt. Smith: "It's a mathematical certainly. She will founder."

The numbers are as inexorable as they are irrefutable.

4) This means that the 700,000 former CF members in this country (and more to come) will no longer have anyone to intercede for them with VAC.

Then what?
1) That's a pretty broad brush you are painting with. I'm sure the average Legion member who is former/current police is there entirely for the purpose of drug fueled raves with no local "ruffians" present, then add in the local "Coast Guard" and it's essentially a hive of scum and villainy.

2) The CAF was overwhelmingly white, male, and uneducated... Sorry we don't meet your expectations. Oddly enough, nobody ever said "don't do that tour, you're too white, and lack a university degree".

3) Find a single organization that hasn't had issues with racism, or intolerant behavior over the last four decades. If that is the bar we are setting, you'd best form a new group every year, as any group made up of tens of thousands of humans will have a$$holes, and bigots. Should we ban the CAF, and government from Remembrance Day for past bigoted/racist/homophobic actions?

4) Who do you propose to represent us? The government that fights against us?

I'm not a fan of the RCL, it's a dumpsterfire in it's own fun ways, but your problems with it are either ridiculous, or universal.
 

stoker dave

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Maybe if everyone who complained about the Legion actually joined their local branch, that ratio would be much different and they could actually express their concerns.
I have no interest in joining the local legion branch. However, if there was ever a committee to review the fundamental operating principles of the RCL, establish a new charter and "re-boot" the organization completely, sign me up now.
 

Edward Campbell

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I'm not going to comment. Some of you know my views all to well and I will not restate them.

I think Remembrance Day is, slowly ~ and not all that gracefully ~ morphing into Veterans' Day. I think that's understandable. There are almost no widows and only a few children of those killed in action in WWII and Korea left alive. There are only a few tens of thousands people touched, very directly, by the few thousand Canadians who have died in operations ~ or as a direct result of the stress of operations ~ in the past 70 years, post Korea. Veterans Affairs Canada and the RCL are veterans organizations, aiming to serve veterans. Those killed in action are not veterans ... they have no voice and the voice of those who remember them is dying out. Maybe it is time for Remembrance Day to "go gentle into that good night" and, as with so many other things, we can become a pale imitation of the USA.


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Those who want to remember, privately, can still do so ... November 11th is not the only day you can visit a cenotaph and stop, just for a minute, to consider what might have been for so many.
 

daftandbarmy

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I'm not going to comment. Some of you know my views all to well and I will not restate them.

I think Remembrance Day is, slowly ~ and not all that gracefully ~ morphing into Veterans' Day. I think that's understandable. There are almost no widows and only a few children of those killed in action in WWII and Korea left alive. There are only a few tens of thousands people touched, very directly, by the few thousand Canadians who have died in operations ~ or as a direct result of the stress of operations ~ in the past 70 years, post Korea. Veterans Affairs Canada and the RCL are veterans organizations, aiming to serve veterans. Those killed in action are not veterans ... they have no voice and the voice of those who remember them is dying out. Maybe it is time for Remembrance Day to "go gentle into that good night" and, as with so many other things, we can become a pale imitation of the USA.



Those who want to remember, privately, can still do so ... November 11th is not the only day you can visit a cenotaph and stop, just for a minute, to consider what might have been for so many.

The ceremonies at Vancouver Island cenotaphs are always well attended by the public, and not because everyone wants to see the military march around. Vancouver too, in general.

The Legion runs the Poppy Campaign and that always gets a good response too, IMHO.

I'm pretty sure that the whole R-Day thing will continue here.... despite our best efforts to Eff it up every once in awhile :)
 

Colin Parkinson

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Yea I think the West Van legion raised about $75,000 from poppy sales just prior to Covid. We just had two local legion donate a decent chunk of money to our Navy League Corp, we were surprised as we had assumed that they would not be able to give the Cadets any funding this year.
 

quadrapiper

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The ceremonies at Vancouver Island cenotaphs are always well attended by the public, and not because everyone wants to see the military march around. Vancouver too, in general.

The Legion runs the Poppy Campaign and that always gets a good response too, IMHO.

I'm pretty sure that the whole R-Day thing will continue here.... despite our best efforts to Eff it up every once in awhile :)
Agreed on the Island: the Cobble Hill ceremony where I pipe every year has excellent turnout regardless of weather. They're certainly not turning out for the sight of Signals and RCMP troops (IIRC) and a mixed squad of cadets following the flag party and veterans around the corner from the community hall. Same at the other village and town memorials in the Cowichan Valley.
 

Kilted

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I'm not going to comment. Some of you know my views all to well and I will not restate them.

I think Remembrance Day is, slowly ~ and not all that gracefully ~ morphing into Veterans' Day. I think that's understandable. There are almost no widows and only a few children of those killed in action in WWII and Korea left alive. There are only a few tens of thousands people touched, very directly, by the few thousand Canadians who have died in operations ~ or as a direct result of the stress of operations ~ in the past 70 years, post Korea. Veterans Affairs Canada and the RCL are veterans organizations, aiming to serve veterans. Those killed in action are not veterans ... they have no voice and the voice of those who remember them is dying out. Maybe it is time for Remembrance Day to "go gentle into that good night" and, as with so many other things, we can become a pale imitation of the USA.



Those who want to remember, privately, can still do so ... November 11th is not the only day you can visit a cenotaph and stop, just for a minute, to consider what might have been for so many.
And what about the 40,000 who served in Afghanistan? Remembrance Day isn't meant to just remember those who left people had home. How many did we lose who had no one waiting for them at home? Do they deserve to be remembered any less then the rest. Just because more time has passed dosent mean that we should stop remembering people. 1812 has largely been added to our memory when it comes to Remembrance Day and arguably the American Revolution should be as well. If it was not for those who fought in both wars, there would be no Canada.
Also, we are going to have more wars in the future, hopefully distant future, but Remembrance Day is for them as well.
 

Edward Campbell

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And what about the 40,000 who served in Afghanistan? Remembrance Day isn't meant to just remember those who left people had home. How many did we lose who had no one waiting for them at home? Do they deserve to be remembered any less then the rest. Just because more time has passed dosent mean that we should stop remembering people. 1812 has largely been added to our memory when it comes to Remembrance Day and arguably the American Revolution should be as well. If it was not for those who fought in both wars, there would be no Canada.
Also, we are going to have more wars in the future, hopefully distant future, but Remembrance Day is for them as well.

I hope you're right ... but I'm sensing (guessing, really) that the societal impulses that gave rise to and then sustained Remembrance Day for about a century have changed in ways that mean that the very idea of remembering sacrifice is no longer sustainable. I suspect that one of the reasons that VAC and the RCL want to "repurpose" Remembrance Day into some sort of Veterans" Day is because that's what people ~ our neighbours and friends and even our families ~ want to happen.
 

lenaitch

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Hope retired Colours start finding their way into local municipal buildings, library main branches, arenas, etc. For that matter, unless a given church is entirely and absolutely on board with CAF values re: equality, etc., pull any laid-up Colours from their facilities.

I thought the LA had died out. In some ways it's the most peculiar on the list: most of the rest's whack-a-mole local bigotry, where the LA is something the RCL could simply stand down.

Off the top of my head, the only outfit as geographically pervasive as the RCL is cadet corps/squadrons. Not terribly useful for some aspects (really not enough pay to cover off dealing with permits, police, wreaths, PA, etc.), though for others, they're already pretty well embedded (sentries, flag party either wholly or in part, band, etc.) in rural areas. Biggest ceremonial hassle would likely be (if a non-Legion option were chosen) the bunfight over parade commander and to a lesser extent MC. Veteran? If so, then who? CAF member? If so, then senior locally resident (which'll mean CIC in a lot of places), or selected in some other way?

Community organized means probably ending up with local politicians getting a speaking part.

Entirely agreed on getting rid of the religious aspect at the cenotaph: if someone wants to host a service earlier in the day, whether single or multifaith, go for it. The Silence serves quite well enough for whatever form of reflection and connection with the infinite each person attending might prefer.

Using the cadets or various private military associations would be limiting for the majority of small scattered rural communities which simply lack any kind of organizing entity let alone one that has some kind of commonality across the country (there are roughly 1400 Legion branches).

As a copper in a small town, the local Branch was a favoured social venue. Not only was it free of the local numpties that filled ones working day, you could generally relax without being put in a compromising position with criminal activity going on. The clientele was generally 'pro-establishment' and understood the concept of service. It also offered basic of decent food (in some cases) and a place to play cards, shoot pool or listen to sometimes questionable entertainment that wasn't a dive bar or a place where you couldn't hear yourself think.

I can't say I've ever been to a Remembrance Day ceremony that was overly religious. I actually don't mind the odd prayer or invocation; I'm not from the school that if it doesn't speak to me then it offends me. I stand quietly and respectfully by while those portions carry on. Nor do I refuse to attend or stomp out of a wedding or funeral at the mere mention of a deity. I did lobby once during planning for a conference when a smudge ceremony was proposed. The organization and event was completely secular (didn't even include an opening prayer), and I felt that the cultural-spiritual link of the aboriginal ceremony was clear.

A lot of cenotaphs have religious symbols on them. I hope we don't get to the point of demanding that they be removed.

It is clear that many are not enthralled with the RCL, probably for good reason, but it seems that Remembrance Day and the Poppy program are a couple of things they do rather well.
 

quadrapiper

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Using the cadets or various private military associations would be limiting for the majority of small scattered rural communities which simply lack any kind of organizing entity let alone one that has some kind of commonality across the country (there are roughly 1400 Legion branches).
I wouldn't be particularly keen on the cadet organization getting tasked with it: was just casting around for the next-best-distributed single organization with a military bent. There's 145 JCR patrols and 1088 cadet corps/squadrons, though some of the latter are doubled or tripled up in a community (Sea/Army/Air), though the same thing might be said for Legion branches in some areas.
I can't say I've ever been to a Remembrance Day ceremony that was overly religious. I actually don't mind the odd prayer or invocation; I'm not from the school that if it doesn't speak to me then it offends me. I stand quietly and respectfully by while those portions carry on. Nor do I refuse to attend or stomp out of a wedding or funeral at the mere mention of a deity. I did lobby once during planning for a conference when a smudge ceremony was proposed. The organization and event was completely secular (didn't even include an opening prayer), and I felt that the cultural-spiritual link of the aboriginal ceremony was clear.

A lot of cenotaphs have religious symbols on them. I hope we don't get to the point of demanding that they be removed.
Agreed as far as existing memorials with religious symbols. I'm also game, on principle, to do the respectful silence thing; however, I'm not a fan of either a singular religious voice, especially if they're without military or RCL links, or every local officiant having a go at the cenotaph.

You can almost manage the latter if a community has a relatively sparse religious selection: around here, there's Sikhs, Buddhists, IIRC Hindus, a patchwork of First Nations, and a comprehensive sampling of Christians, with physical places of worship in the Cowichan Valley, and a few more without. Best to consign that to a separate event.

Actually, as a "displease almost everyone equally" choice, if there must be a religious element, let it be a CAF chaplain and/or someone from the local First Nation. Neither available? Strike prayer from the program.
 
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