It’s Legion Week in British Columbia and the Yukon, and the Prince Rupert chapter was set to celebrate and honour our veterans with an open house of the Legion museum.
These plans had to be cancelled however due to a volunteer shortage. While visitors can still come and view the many uniforms, badges, models and other war artifacts on display, there won’t be any fanfare during one of the biggest weeks of the legion’s year.
Unfortunately, this is not a new phenomenon.
“We have issues getting people to join the legion,” said Hazel Bott, the organization’s treasurer. “When you have a declining membership your volunteer base declines. In the legion, a lot of the members are older.”
|The legion museum was set to hold the open house, before a lack of volunteers led to its cancellation. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
This means a different demographic of volunteers, young people, are needed to fill the gaps. But it is not currently a group that has a high volunteer membership.
“The lack of volunteers has been happening for a long time, and it affects all the organizations in Prince Rupert,” said Bott. “Younger people don’t tend to join the volunteer organizations anymore. Those of us that are active are usually quite a bit older.”
For groups like the legion, a lack of support has a negative effect on the community as a whole.
“I think there’s the whole awareness,” Bott said regarding what the loss of events like the open house mean. “One of the missions of the legion is to promote remembrance. And that’s one of the reasons for having an open house, is to encourage people to drop in.”
|Some of the badges that the legion had hoped to show off during the open house. Visitors can still check them out at the museum however, on Thursday to Sunday afternoons. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)|
On a different scale, the legion has also seen some of its usual activities suffer.
“In the past we used to have a fish derby,” explained Legion vice-president Bernie Alexander. “We had over $30,000 in prizes to give away, and a boat. But that died off when we closed down the other legion.”
“We just don’t have enough volunteers to go out and start it up again. In the past it was three of us doing the whole thing, and it was too much on us.”
Alex Kurial | Journalist
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