Twilight is upon 2015 and soon a New Year will dawn. The arrival of 2016 in about a week’s time isn’t simply a matter of flipping the calendar to a new month. Rather, it will also be a time that marks new beginnings for many.
For First Nations people scarred by years of torment and abuse perpetrated during their time in the Indian residential school system, it will finally be a time for healing. A new era for healthy and strong nation-to-nation relations was launched recently when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) published its full report on how to best cope with the fallout from life in residential schools, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau continues to stand behind his promise to enact all 94 of the TRC’s recommendations. These range from how to heal families and communities to the revitalization of aboriginal cultures, languages, spirituality and more.
At a more local level, Waterhen Lake First Nation elder Sid Fiddler – riding a wave of momentum from both the TRC report, and from the support of members of his community and beyond – plans to rebuild a sweat lodge destroyed by fire last week. It’s this sort of forward thinking in the face of adversity that has the ability to encourage others not to give up on life and to always move forward in pursuit of their dreams.
Indeed, the New Year often means a fresh start. Unfortunately, however, this isn’t always the case.
Recently, a special dinner was held at the local Legion to pay tribute to the Branch 76 Ladies Auxiliary, which disbanded this month after more than 80 years of contributions to the Meadow Lake community and the surrounding area. It was an emotional night for the six remaining members, as they dressed in their Legion garb for one last official outing as a group.
Since its inception, the auxiliary – much like its counterparts at other branches throughout the country – has routinely held fundraisers and other special events as a means of securing dollars to support veterans’ needs, and to help cover the costs associated with the development and furnishing of Legion halls across Canada. Whether it was offering catering services, hosting the annual Poppy Day Tea or through some other initiative, the Meadow Lake auxiliary was both a welcome and honourable addition to the Legion proper, and it is one that will be sorely missed.
With its ageing membership greatly reduced, it’s too bad more women have been either unable or unwilling to step forward and carry on what the auxiliary has always stood for. It is a changing world, however, and the sad truth of the matter is nothing lasts forever.
But, if your legacy truly is measured by the lives you touch and inspire, the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 76 Ladies Auxiliary is destined to be remembered for a long time to come.