Legion Week aims to help residents get to know their local branch

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald (L to R) Legion Week chair Deanne Riese and Legion President Rick Hodgson; The Prince Albert Legion branch will be taking part in Legion Week from Sept. 17 to 23.

The Prince Albert Legion Branch No. 2 has seven days of activities planned for their inaugural Legion Week.

Some Canadian Legion branches have celebrated Legion Week since the 1980s, but this will be the first year Saskatchewan Legions take part. The event is spreading across Canada for 2023, and runs from Sept. 17-23.

Legion Week Chair Deanne Riese found out about Legion Week while attending Saskatchewan Command meetings, and began working to get the Prince Albert branch involved.

“The objective is to educate the visitors on the good work for the local branches,” Riese explained. “It reinforces the important roles the branches play in our shared mission to serve and support veterans as well as contribute to the well-being of so many communities.”

Riese said they’re also hoping to get more local residents involved in the Legion, so for the first time ever, they’re offering free membership until the end of 2023, if residents pay for their 2024 membership immediately.

The City of Prince Albert has already proclaimed Sept. 17 to 23 as Legion Week in the City. Legion President Rick Hodgson is pleased to see the event on the calendar so that the local Legion can be celebrated.

“Anything you can get to promote your Legion helps your Legion and gets it out into the community so that people know,” Hodgson explained. “The Legion and these events that we’re putting on are open to everybody. Come and check on our Legion and see what we do and hopefully we can bring in some volunteers for the future and get people to support our Legion.”

Hodgson said that the Legion in Prince Albert is strong but an event like this will help people understand what the Legion does. He said the building’s hall and lounge are both attractive venues for people looking to host events.

“I don’t know how many times I’ve had people come into the Legion and they want to rent the building or something and do something and they don’t believe what it is like,” he said. “They’ve never realized the Legion was there and what’s in the building.

“We have got our shuffleboard and pool games and that and we’ve got people active doing things in our Legion and spreading the word,” he added.

Legion Week begins on Sunday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. with an unveiling of a new Legion Monument at the Legion Branch and a breakfast smorgasbord to follow until 1 p.m. There will also be a Battle of Britain presentation to celebrate the 83rd Anniversary.

The Legion is also partnering with the Saskatchewan Seniors Fitness Association (SSFA) for an evening of comedy open to the public.

On Monday, there will be a volunteer appreciation night for all Legion volunteers. On Tuesday, the SSFA in Prince Albert will continue their partnership with the Legion that encourages membership for both organizations. As part of this partnership the SSF is cross-promoting an improv night with Off the Cuff Improv and the Legion on Tuesday, Sept. 19.

“They put on a really, really, really good show, and sometimes if you’re sitting in the front seat or a front row or second row, you might be part of the show,” SSFA President Barry Brezden said.

The cost is $25 at the door but that includes a yearly membership in the SSFA, which costs $20. Members of the SSFA or the Legion get in for $5 or $10 if they present proof of membership

“We’re basically we’re saying $25 at the door, but that gets you your $20 yearly membership fee for the CFA,” Brezden explained.

“Come on down to the Legion, because this thing is going to be packed,” he added.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Wednesday night is a Jam Session from 7 p.m. until 9 p.m.

“That is open to the public and people can bring their instruments and participate in the jam session. Or they can just come to listen to the music,” Riese said.

On Thursday, Sept. 21 there will be a celebration of the RCMP 150th Anniversary beginning at 7 p.m.

They are including their annual Pin and Awards Ceremony and that will be on Friday evening at 6:30 p.m.

At both the Pin and Awards and RCMP celebration cold cuts and buns are provided and snacks are provided at the Jam Session and Improv Night.

To close out the week, they will host their regular Saturday Supper at 5:30 p.m., the cost is $13 per plate with a Meat Draw to follow, which costs $1 a ticket.

“We are also going to have music bingo at 7 p.m. for fun. That will be open to the public and that will close the celebration,” Riese said.

Riese said the Legion fundraises for a lot of veterans causes, so by supporting the Legion you can help support veterans.

The Legion has donated two beds to Mont St. Joseph Home, one for a veteran and one for a veteran’s spouse. Riese said the beds were funded through donatinos to the Poppy Fund.

“We get lots of requests for funding, like say through STARS, and we like to raise money,” Hodgson said. “The idea of it is a give it back into the community to help other organizations.”

Riese encouraged everyone to come out and celebrate Legion Week.

“We’d like to see everybody out during the celebration and, sign up,” Hodgson said. “If you come during that week, you get to pay the $55 for 2024, and you get the rest of the year for free.”

Hodgson said that there will be a lot to see and do at the Legion Week.