Lt. Charles Edward Blair had been in an unmarked grave for nearly 100 years. Middle school teacher James Rowinski first reached out to his local M.P. in February 2019 with a heart-breaking story dating from the First World War. Last Post Fund was pleased to take on the project of properly marking Lt. Blair’s grave with a military marker. read more...
As the Last Post Fund unfurls our new banner, many will be curious about the identity of the kneeling soldier. She is MCpl Jenny Labrador, and here’s what she had to say about that eloquent moment, so poignantly captured in this photo. read more...
The inaugural National Aboriginal Veterans Day took place on November 8, 1993 in Ottawa and is now celebrated all across Canada. We stand together in honouring the sacrifices of Indigenous Veterans on this special Memorial Day. read more...
Dancers perform during the annual general assembly of the National Association of Friendship Centres in Lethbridge, Alberta, July 18.. read more...
Last Post Fund is proud to partner with Old Brewery Mission as part of their outreach Mission to Veterans. The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defense announced $3 Million in new funding benefiting Veterans. read more...
Getting overseas was the ultimate for everyone – to get closer to the action… just the idea of the excitement and adventure of it As we celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8th, Last Post Fund honours the pioneering women who served as members of the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. read more...
The Last Post Fund National Office, the Last Post Fund Québec Branch and the LPF National Field of Honour were most honoured to receive a delegation of distinguished visitors from the Polish Military Historical Institute (Wojskowe Biuro Historiczne) headed by its director, Prof. Sławomir Cenckiewicz and accompanied by the Consul General for the Republic of Poland in Montreal, Dariusz Wisniewski.
The delegation visited the National Field of Honour to mark the 50th anniversary of the death of general Kazimierz Sosnkowski, whose son Peter was also in attendance.
General Sosnkowski was born in Warsaw November 18, 1885 and died in Arundel, Québec on October 11, 1969. A true Renaissance man, over the course of his lifetime he was a soldier, a politician, a thinker and an artist. He studied philosophy and the arts and was fluent in French, German, English, Italian, Spanish and Russian in addition to his native tongue, Polish.
A close associate of Józef Klemens Piłsudski, father of the Second Polish Republic, Sosnkowski became his deputy and chief of staff, and held the role of Commander of the First Brigade of the Polish Legions during the First World War. The two were arrested by the Germans and deported to Magdeburg after instructing the Polish Legion to refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. After the war, they were both liberated and returned to Warsaw, and in March 1919 Sosnkowski was named Deputy Minister of Military Affairs, a position he held during the Polish-Soviet War.
General Kazimierz Sosnkowski in the 1930s
Photo: public domain commons.wikimedia.org
At the outbreak of the Second World War, as Commander of the southern armies, General Sosnkowski led several victorious battles, but ultimately had to concede defeat after the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. He was exiled in Hungary, from where he contributed to the preparation of the Polish Armed Forces in the west in the decisive clash with Germany. After the tragic death of General Sikorski in July 1943, Sosnkowski officially became Commander-in-Chief, during which period he fought his greatest battles, including at Monte Cassino, Ancona, Falaise and Arnhem. On September 30th, 1944, under pressure from UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill over Sosnkowski’s unyeilding attitude towards the Soviets, he was demoted from his position of Commander-in-Chief.
Following the war, Sosnkowski settled in Arundel, Québec with his wife Jadwiga and their five sons. Sosnkowski remained active in the community of Polish emigrés and was also instrumental in the signing of the 1954 Act of National Unification in London.
After his death, his ashes were initially buried at the Montmorency cemetery near Paris, and in 1992 they were brought to the Arch-Cathedral of St. John in Warsaw where they were buried and still rest.
May his tremendous achievements always be remembered!
Executive Director of the Last Post Fund, Mr. Edouard Pahud (left) with Quebec Branch President Brigadier-General Gaston Côté, OMM, CD (Retired) and Vice-President Lieutenant Colonel Michel Crowe, CD (Retired) pose with esteemed guests and members of the Polish delegation from the Institute of Polish Military History, led by Prof. Sławomir Cenckiewicz (centre) and accompanied by the Consul General for the Republic of Poland in Montreal, Dariusz Wisniewski (behind Prof. Cenckiewicz).
“To me, it’s really important that these boys – and girls – have their names revived so that their stories live on.” – Bobbi Foulds, Branch 51 RCL 1st Vice-President and member of Last Post Fund, Alberta Branch.
IAbout one year ago, Bobbi Foulds, Branch 51 Royal Canadian Legion 1st Vice President and an active member of the Alberta Branch of the Last Post Fund, noticed a number of unmarked graves at Glenwood Cemetery in Edson, Alberta. This sparked a "treasure hunt" to discover the names and identities of the Veterans buried there, among whom lies Mary Connie Simister, who served as a nursing assistant with the British Armed Forces.
To date, thirteen new headstones have been installed at the previously unmarked grave sites and nine more are on their way, thanks to the Last Post Fund's Unmarked Graves Program.
The President of the Last Post Fund Alberta Branch LCol Hans Brink (Retired) remarked, "It's significant because you don't generally find that many (unmarked Veterans' graves) in one location."
A ceremony commemorating the Veterans was held this past Saturday, August 17th at Glenwood Cemetery. In attendance were several dignitaries, including Member of Parliament Jim Eglinski, Yellowhead County Counsellor Wade Williams, several representatives of local Royal Canadian Legion Branches and military representatives as well as Veterans, Veterans widows and widowers, family and members of the general public.
You can watch the CTV news clip here. Should your branch have knowledge of unmarked graves, please contact our counselors to start the process of having the graves marked.
Congratulations to Bobbi Foulds & to the Last Post Fund Alberta Branch for a job well done in bringing dignity and recognition to these service men and women, may they rest in peace.
Bobbi Foulds and bugler Ryan Wensing during the ceremony celebrating the marking of 13 Veterans graves at Glenwood Cemetery, Edson, AB.
Photo credit: Connor Linchet for / pour Last Post Fund | Fonds du Souvenir
A marker was flown in to Umiujaq July 12 and has been temporarily propped up on Eddy Weetaltuk's gravesite while awaiting a more permanent installation.
The long journey to commemorate Eddy Weetaltuk's military service is finally drawing to its close.
Weetaltuk died at his home in Nunavik in 2005 at the age of 73 and was buried in the cemetery of his home community in Umiujaq on the Hudson coast. It wasn't until 2018 that Alan Patterson, himself a Veteran of the CAF and a retired Umiujaq police officer, wrote to the Prime Minister's Office to request a military grave marker for Eddy Weetaltuk. This request was eventually forwarded to the Last Post Fund in the autumn of 2018. Research began and the wheels were put in motion to provide a military marker for Eddy Weetaltuk in commemoration of his 15 years of military service, notably as a mortar operator in the Korean War.
Earlier this month, a military marker was delivered to Umiujaq where it was planted on Eddy Weetaltuk's grave by Charlie Tooktoo, a local priest. In a dramatic turn of events, the installers that were sent to do the job were not able to land the plane due to poor weather conditions and were forced to return to Montreal; however a new crew is scheduled to arrive within the coming weeks to complete the installation on a concrete base, ensuring the marker stays firmly upright.
Last Post Fund is proud to have been able to accompany this community in their quest for proper commemoration honouring Eddy Weetaltuk's military service.
Eddy Weetaltuk's autobiography is a compelling portrayal of his experience as an Inuit, as a soldier and as an adventurer. Originally written in 1974, it was revised with the assistance of Thibault Martin and published in 2005 under the title From the Tundra to the Trenches and is available from the University of Manitoba Press as well as on amazon.ca.
"We must not allow ignorance to cloud memory."
It is with these opening remarks that the Honorable J. Michel Doyon, Lieutenant Governor of Québec began his address on the occasion of the annual commemoration ceremony held last Sunday June 2 at the National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Québec. He continued, "We have the immense privilege to enjoy freedom. We therefore have the duty to never forget."
Under a somber, rainy sky the numerous guests and attendees were greeted and invited to gather in commemoration by the President of the Last Post Fund, LCol (Ret'd) Ray Mikkola. The ceremony unfolded according to tradition and protocol under the expert guidance of Michel Crowe, Québec Branch President of the Last Post Fund.
Prayers of representatives of three professions of faith, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic, followed the speeches. The bugler then solemnly sounded the Last Post, the moment in the ceremony symbolizing the soldier’s death.
After marking two minutes of silence, the 3rd Montréal Field Battery of Artillery fired 2 cannon shots following which the piper played the Lament. The bugler then sounded the Reveille, signifying the resurrection of the spirit of the fallen.
Last Post Fund National President LCol (Ret'd) Ray Mikkola, CD presented thanks to singer Ms. Jean Miso on behalf of the Last Post Fund, presenting her with a certificate of appreciation for her dedication to commemorating Veterans. Ms. Miso graced us with her interpretation of a song she had composed in homage to Veterans, in a performance enhanced by sign language.
Wreaths were laid by dignitaries representing the countries of Canada and Poland, the municipalities of Kirkland and Beaconsfield, as well as the Royal Canadian Legion and the many other representatives of military organisations that were present. We were particularly honoured to count among us two Veterans, notable both for their service as well as for their advanced age.
Mr. Władysław Rzewucki survived the deportation of his entire family to Siberia, and ultimately was able to join the II Polish Corps, with whom he fought alongside Allied forces during the Battle of Monte Cassino in Italy.
Mr. Harry Hurwitz survived the sinking of N.C.S.M. Athabaskan G07 which escorted many convoys during the battle of the Atlantic. At 99 years of age, he is the last living survivor of that ship.
We must never forget the sacrifices of those who defended us, and those who continue to defend our country.
The ceremony was brought to a close by the military band playing God Save the Queen followed by our national anthem.
This ceremony was the culmination of a weekend of commemorations marked by a ceremony at the Clock Tower in the Old Port, Montréal on Saturday June 1 as well as a brief ceremony at the Mount-Royal cemetery Sunday morning. We remind all who are interested in commemorating along with us that these ceremonies take place annually on the first weekend in June and are open to the public.
The Act of Remembrance
They shall grow not old,
as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them,
nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them.
- Excerpt from For the Fallen - Laurence Binyon
On the occasion of National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21st, Last Post Fund would like to share the story of the search for Algonquin Veteran Samuel “Sam” C. Gagnon. This story was brought to us by Stephen McGregor, who through his own care, perseverance and hard work, was able to finally bring dignified commemoration to this Veteran with the help of the Last Post Fund.
The search for Sam began in 1977, when Stephen came across an article about him in the Ottawa Citizen. Sam was a close relative of Stephen on his father’s side. When Stephen asked his father if he knew more about Sam, he replied that Sam had left for Alberta after the war and was never heard from again. With his curiosity piqued by Sam’s story, Stephen was determined to find him. The search would take 38 years.
He began by searching the telephone directories for districts in Alberta as well as the latest Legion Magazines, checking the Last Post section often, but had no luck in finding him there. Around 2003 he moved his search to the internet and began to actively search for Sam every second Saturday, sometimes searching for eight-hour sessions. He found nothing for 12 years – then, on Remembrance Day, 2015 Stephen was relaxing after a day of working to make the house winter-ready, when something told him he would finally find Sam.
Stephen felt the moment had come. “Something in my conscience told me: Go!” Stephen finally found an online trace of Sam at three in the morning of November 12, 2015: “Sam Gagnon, Great War Veteran, Algonquin, Alberta”. Stephen promptly followed up on this lead; finally it was a young woman from Barrhead Hospital in Alberta who was able to find Sam’s record based on the description Stephen provided: “He had a glass eye and his chest x-ray showed many heal points in every rib of his ribcage… wounds that he could have only suffered from a massive, violent trauma – like the German artillery shell that exploded at his feet at Passchendaele in 1917.”
Sam Gagnon died at Barrhead hospital in March 1965 and was buried at St. Anne’s cemetery in Barrhead, Alberta. He no longer had a marker, but the grave was still there. Luckily, Stephen contacted the Last Post Fund and we were able to provide Sam with a military marker.
With the list obtained from amateur historian Yann Castelnot of over 18,000 Indigenous Veterans who served in the Canadian Armed Forces, the Last Post Fund looks to honour Indigenous Veterans through the recently launched Indigenous Initiative. We are pleased to be working with dedicated researchers such as Stephen McGregor, who will be helping us identify the unmarked graves of Veterans from his community, Kitigan Zibi, Quebec.
PHOTO: courtesy of Stephen McGregor
During the Second World War Anthony (Tony) Paskell, served in the British Royal Navy as a telegraphist, and was stationed at a camp at Deolali in the state of Maharashtra, India and later in Ceylon (Sri Lanka). When he returned to Cardiff after the war, he attended Teachers College there. Having started his career in Britain, he left home to answer the call for teachers in Canada’s north. With the experience gained from working and living among indigenous people, he engaged in writing for various educational publications.
During his time in the Canadian north, two talented and influential friends encouraged him to try his hand at painting : celebrated Anishanaabe indigenous artist, Jackson Beardy and cinematographer Robert Aller. Driven by his passion for painting, Paskell would eventually become a full-time artist. From his quaint hobby farm in eastern Ontario to the mountains of Mexico and beyond, he recorded scenes of everyday life, despite being visually impaired. In later years, he ventured into the world of abstract and semi-abstract art.
Last Post Fund is the grateful recipient of three paintings by Tony Paskell, in recognition for assistance with funeral and burial we were able to provide to the family upon his death.
This tableau by Tony Paskell depicting a rural scene now hangs in the National Office of the Last Post Fund.
Corporal Kyle Scott (Retired) is a Veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces as a Combat Engineer. He saw active duty during 2 tours of Afghanistan in 2004 and 2006, after which he received a Mention in Dispatches before receiving his military discharge in 2008.
Following Kyle’s return home from active duty, he felt driven to stay involved with the Canadian military community of Veterans, and became a member of the Royal Canadian Legion in Whitecourt, AB. There he has held positions from President to 1st Vice President, Sergeant at arms, and is now Service Officer as well as volunteering on the national committee with Dominion Command, Royal Canadian Legion.
Kyle’s interest in Veteran’s graves began with an emotional trip to visit the gravesite of a former Afghan war Veteran and high school friend. Kyle gradually began to take a wider interest in visiting and maintaining Veteran's graves as a way of honouring their sacrifice and also helping to frame and put into perspective his own experience as a Veteran. In his frequent travels around the province and beyond, Kyle found himself visiting graveyards, looking for Veterans' markers in need of repair and making note of those that were missing markers. This volunteer work naturally led him to join the Last Post Fund Alberta Branch in the fall of 2018 where he has continued to devote time and effort to the Unmarked Grave Program.
Kyle is the first to know that modern-day Veterans (MDV's) are a difficult population to reach. First, because they are smaller in numbers and more sparsely spread throughout the country than the previous generations of Veterans who saw service in the World Wars and in the Korean War. Second, because it seems common to Veterans of all generations to be reluctant to look for help for themselves as they share a strong commitment to serving others first, often neglecting or ignoring their own need for assistance.
Kyle describes his volunteer work assisting Veterans and helping to honour and commemorate deceased Veterans as a form of therapy that has helped him come to terms with his own experience in Afghanistan and his reluctance to ask for help when he needed it.
Learning others’ stories, helping to commemorate them by marking their graves or by replacing damaged markers is Kyle’s way of honouring those who may not have achieved recognition during their lifetime. Of his volunteer work in the Unmarked Grave Program, Kyle says, "For me, it’s a chance to bring them out of obscurity, to recognize their sacrifice and share their stories, and to honour in death those whom we may not have had a chance to honour during their lifetime."
The Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers is awarded by the Governor’s General’s Office in recognition of the exceptional volunteer achievements of Canadians from across the country in a wide range of fields. As an official Canadian honour, it also pays tribute to the dedication and exemplary commitment of volunteers. The Last Post Fund warmly congratulates Cpl Kyle Scott (Ret’d) for this well-deserved award.
On Saturday February 23 Tara Muia and Kelly Martin represented Last Post Fund at the Garrison Officers’ Ball held at the Sheraton Center in Toronto. As guests arrived at the lavish event for the cocktail hour, Last Post Fund had a kiosk in place to inform officers and guests of the work of the fund and to provide visibility for our programs.
Over 800 guests from the Toronto Garrison and further afield were present at the ball, which was graciously hosted this year by the Royal Regiment of Canada. Commander Canadian Army, Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, attending with his wife Pamela, addressed the assembled guests as keynote speaker with a refreshing candour that immediately endeared him to all present.
In keeping with the theme of this year’s ball “Til the troops come home”, a special presentation was made to Lesley Barron-Kerr, great-grand-daughter of Colin Barron VC for her efforts to acquire and bring back to Canada her great-grandfather’s medal. Colin Barron was one of nine Canadians awarded the Victoria Cross for heroism at the Battle of Passchendaele. The Canadian War Museum successfully purchased the medal, which had been put up for auction, with help from Kerr, who donated an undisclosed amount of money to make sure it stayed in Canada. Thanks to her efforts, it is now safely part of the national collection at the Canadian War Museum.
“Til the troops come home” was a celebration of returning soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Force at the end of the First World War just over one hundred years ago, while pausing to honour and remember those who didn’t make it home. The theme also paid tribute to the Canadian military efforts during the Second World War, the Korean War, and modern operations – in which many attendees have participated as soldiers or as invaluable supporting family members.
Historically, military garrisons across the British Empire held balls to celebrate significant events such as the birthday of a King or Queen. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries a January ball would be held at Fort York (Toronto) to celebrate Queen Charlotte’s (wife of King George III) birthday.
The January ball was perhaps in honour of Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales rather than of Queen Charlotte (as is commonly reported) given that Queen Charlotte’s birthday was May 19th and Princess Charlotte’s was January 7th (although, according to Wikipedia, the Queen's or the King's Official Birthday is the selected day in some Commonwealth realms on which the birthday of the monarch is officially celebrated in those countries and does not necessarily correspond to the date of the monarch's actual birth!)
In its current incarnation, the Garrison Officers’ Ball provides an elegant evening of dinner and entertainment for officers from all the units of the Garrison to mingle socially as well as being an opportunity to acknowledge the sacrifices made by their significant others in allowing the officers to serve.
In recent years, the Ball has been opened to leading members of the business community. In doing so, the event serves to further strengthen the connection between the military and business communities in Canada’s financial capital.
Historical Capsule (Wikipedia)
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (19 May 1744 – 17 November 1818) was the wife of King George III. She served as Queen of Great Britain and Queen of Ireland from her wedding in 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, after which she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1818. She was also the Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.
Charlotte was a patron of the arts and an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She was distressed by her husband's bouts of physical and mental illness, which became permanent in later life and resulted in their eldest son's appointment as Prince Regent in 1811. George III and Charlotte had 15 children in total, 13 of whom survived to adulthood. She was the mother of two future British monarchs, George IV and William IV. Her other children included Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover, and Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg.
Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales (7 January 1796 – 6 November 1817) was the only child of the British king George IV, who was still Prince of Wales during her lifetime, and his wife Caroline of Brunswick. If she had outlived both her grandfather King George III and her father, she would have become Queen of the United Kingdom, but she died following childbirth at the age of 21, predeceasing them both. Charlotte's death set off tremendous mourning among the British, who had seen her as a sign of hope and a contrast both to her unpopular father and to her grandfather, whom they deemed mad. She had been King George III's only legitimate grandchild.
The Last Post Fund was grieved to learn of the passing of Sergeant Arthur Edward Christensen, who among his many and varied achievements, served for 15 years as Manitoba Branch President of the Last Post Fund.
Art Christensen was born in Winnipeg on December 23rd, 1916 to Danish parents Niels and Mathilda Christensen. In 1932 he joined the 13th Battery of the 26th Field Artillery Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery, and served overseas as battery Sergeant-Major during the Second World War, before contracting tuberculosis and being sent back home. An eighteen-month convalescence period left him with a collapsed lung, although this condition apparently did not prevent him from leading a full and active life.
Arthur Edward Christensen is fondly remembered as a community builder and community leader in Rivercrest, a housing community north of Winnipeg established in 1946 for Veterans of the Second World War. In addition to his professional career, he spent 21 years in elected office; 10 years as Councillor and 11 years as Reeve. Art Christensen was recognized during his lifetime through the many awards he received for his community service, including the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal.
Art Christensen passed away peacefully on December 30, 2018 at the age of 102.
According to his family, when asked for his secret to such a long life, he would always reply, “Everything in moderation.”
Last Post Fund recognizes his service to the country and to his community and is honoured to count Sgt. Arthur Edward Christensen as one of “our own”. He will not be forgotten.
In the pre-dawn of April 9, 1917, Canadian Forces began their assault on Vimy Ridge. It was Easter Sunday. More than 10 600 Canadian soldiers would be wounded there or would perish, a heavy price to pay for the taking of a position that was rumoured to be unassailable. Both French and English troops had tried before them and been defeated, leaving heavy losses on the battlefield.
Aware of the extreme difficulty of their task, the Canadians followed a rigorous training regimen in preparation for the assault. Military attack simulation exercises were carried out and meticulously timed, the chain of command was established for every battlefield scenario and specific tasks were assigned to soldiers, such as sapper and grenade-thrower. Meanwhile, tunnels were dug under enemy lines and targeted attacks were carried out on strategic positions in order to gain information and destabilize the enemy.
The week before the attack, Canadian troops relentlessly bombarded German positions, weakening and further destabilizing the enemy. At dawn on April 9th, Easter Sunday, their attack plan was deployed as assault waves followed a barrage of Allied shellfire in perfectly-timed formation, advancing relentlessly despite the deafening horror of artillery fire and the cries of wounded and dying comrades-in-arms all around. Many soldiers from both sides were buried where they lay, with makeshift markers.
Canadian forces ultimately succeeded where other Allied forces had failed, and all in the space of only 4 days. The Battle of Vimy Ridge was a turning point for Canada’s identity as a distinct nation, no longer to be treated as simply an appendage of the British Empire. This exploit earned Canada a separate entry as signatory to the Treaty of Versailles, which put an end to the war.
The concerted effort that united the four Canadian divisions along with the legendary courage and perseverance of the Canadian army at Vimy contributed to establishing the new-found Canadian identity. As the historian Jonathan Vance writes in A Canadian Reassessment, « It was only a small step to connect Vimy with the birth of a nation… the Canadian Corps became a metaphor for the nation itself. »
Video: 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge
April 9, 1917 … almost 100 years ago. All four divisions of the Canadian Corps fought side-by-side for the first time as one formation at Vimy Ridge. After four days of intense battle, nearly 3,600 of our soldiers’ lives lost, over 7,000 more wounded and countless displays of extraordinary courage. The capture of Vimy Ridge was truly an incredible military victory. On April 9, 2017… one hundred years later, Canada will honour this battle in France and in communities across Canada. 2017 promises to be a monumental year for our nation—the 150th anniversary of Confederation and the centennial of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. We are proud and will never forget those who served in this great battle.
The Kenora Great War Project originated with Becky Johnson who was deeply interested in researching her family history and her ancestor’s military service. In January 2012 she reached out to people she knew in her community, this included Judy Stockham, in order to research and write stories about all those listed on the Kenora Cenotaph.
Originally there was a great deal of participation in launching the project, however in the last few years it has only been Becky and Judy. In 2016, funds were made available through the government as well as the Lake of the Wood Museum to launch the website www.kenoragreatwarproject.ca. The site has a vast resource of information, pictures and includes 1850 compelling stories.
Becky says “Working on the Kenora Great War Project has been fascinating, rewarding and a huge learning experience.”
Judy is a retired school teacher, and alongside her husband they have photographed grave markers in various cemeteries in the area, including two thirds of the military section of Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg and they have posted their hard work on findagrave.com.
Since 2015, there have been 104 military markers installed in association with this project. The Last Post Fund would like to thank Becky Johnson and Judy Stockham for their devotion and hard work in researching and locating these Veterans unmarked graves.
On this past Thanksgiving Day, Last Post Fund member Barry Keeler and his young grandson Jake, who has an avid interest in WWI and WWII history, had the pleasure of visiting Herb Peppard at the Camp Hill Veterans Memorial Building in Halifax, NS. Herb, a youthful 97 year old Nova Scotian (Truro) is a distinguished WWII Veteran who served with the elite United States/Canadian First Special Force, also known as the Devil’s Brigade.
On February 3rd, 2015 Herb was on Capitol Hill in Washington, with 12 Canadian and 28 American First Special Service Force brothers to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honour the US Congress can bestow. In 1944 he was awarded one of America's highest military honors, the Silver Star, for "gallantry in action."
Barry noted it was a great honour spending time on Thanksgiving afternoon visiting this highly-accomplished WWII Veteran and Jake now intends to write up his biography as a Veterans Week project at school.
We are proud to announce that Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, CC CMM, COM, CQ, CD Governor General and Commander-in-Chief of Canada has graciously accepted our request to become patron of the Last Post Fund. Before becoming Governor General, Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette was an astronaut, engineer, scientific broadcaster and corporate director. She has received many distinctions and 28 honorary doctorates. She is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec.
Tara Muia, of the Last Post Fund and Emile Gallant, of Veterans Affairs Canada, attended the Annual Association of Cemetery and Funeral Professionals (OACFP) Conference & Tradeshow in Hamilton, Ontario on October 2-3, 2018. The OACFP is a non-profit association founded in 1913, initially created to allow Ontario cemetery and funeral professionals to exchange ideas and information in order to maintain professional standards and high levels of customer service. OACFP has an extensive membership base representing all sectors of the bereavement industry, government and death care industry associations across the province. This conference provided an opportunity for Tara and Emile to exchange ideas, build relationships and raise awareness of the Last Post Fund’s mission, as well as promote the Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral and Burial Program .
Representatives from the Last Post Fund National Office and the National Field of Honour had the pleasure of participating in the first gathering of Veterans Services-Quebec Veterans Foundation, held at the St. Hubert Airport, on September 29th, 2018. Last Post Fund team members met a large number of Veterans and their loved ones. They established numerous contacts with kindred organizations that, like us, provide support to the Veterans’ community. Two organizations that were in attendance; Old Brewery Mission and Groupe JP Robin, both provide services to homeless Veterans, which we hope to collaborate with in the future.
Pointe Claire, September 17, 2018. Mr. Andrzej Dera, Secretary of State in the Chancellery of the President of the Republic of Poland (seen in the middle of the photo) and Mr. Andrzej Kurnicki, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Poland to Canada visit the NFOH with members of their Montreal consulate and local Polish war veterans to lay a wreath in remembrance of the 400 Polish soldiers buried in the cemetery. The visitors were received by BGen. Gaston Cote and LCol. Michel Crowe of the Quebec branch.
On September 13, 2018 Brent Lang, member of the British Columbia Branch, became a recipient of the Last Post Fund Award of Merit. The Award was presented by National President, LCol Ray Mikkola in the presence of the Honourable Janet Austen, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. Brent Lang has led and directed to completion two significant Last Post Fund (LPF) commemoration projects at Surrey Centre Cemetery and Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver. The two projects required a tremendous amount of volunteer time, persistence and diplomacy working with municipal officials. Brent’s outstanding contributions and efforts on these two projects has undoubtedly strengthened the profile of LPF in the Lower Mainland in a very meaningful and permanent way.
The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia (LPF BC Branch Patron) hosted, on September 13, 2018, the meeting of LPF BC Branch members at Government House in Victoria. It was also the first time that LCol Ray Mikkola (Retired) attended the Branch meeting in his capacity of National President. The Branch also welcomed LCol Beth Brown (Retired) as a new branch member. Government House is the office and official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians.
Western Canadian Cemetery Association Conference
LCol Hans J Brink (Retired) Alberta Branch President and Maj Dan Brister (Retired) (in photo) attended the Western Canadian Cemetery Association Conference in Grande Prairie Alberta from September 11 to September 13 2018. Hans gave a 30-minute slide presentation on the Last Post Fund.
The Alberta Branch is having preliminary discussions with the City of Edmonton regarding the expansion of the Field of Honour at the Northern Lights Cemetery with an initial focus of a new Columbarium and possibly a Scattering Garden.
“Eddy went to war for our country, and that’s something that needs to be recognized"
NEWS: Nunavik August 27, 2018 - 9:10 am http://nunatsiaq.com
By Sarah Rogers
A Nunavik Inuit veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces will be honoured for his service with a new military grave marker next year. Eddy Weetaltuk was a veteran of the Korean War and served 15 years with the Armed Forces. He died at home in Nunavik in 2005 at age 73, and was buried in the cemetery outside his home community of Umiujaq, along the Hudson coast.
Weetaltuk’s gravesite is adorned with artificial flowers and a wooden cross, but at least one community member felt like something was missing—any mention of his military service. That’s until Alan Patterson, a retired Umiujaq police officer and former Armed Forces veteran, wrote to the Prime Minister’s office earlier this year to ask to have Weetaltuk honoured.
“I knew Eddy when I was a policeman here,” Patterson said. “Eddy went to war for our country, and that’s something that needs to be recognized. Every military member is entitled to a military grave marker.”Patterson’s request went unanswered for several weeks until he recently heard back from the Last Post Fund, which delivers Veterans Affairs Canada’s funeral and burial program.
The Fund has agreed to design and deliver a marker to Umiujaq, which will be installed at Weetaltuk’s grave site sometime in 2019. The granite slab will include Weetaltuk’s name, rank, military unit and the motto “lest we forget.” And it may be the first grave marker of its kind to be laid in an Inuit community; Weetaltuk is considered the first and one of the few Inuit to have served in the Canadian army.
“Inuit participation in the Forces isn’t that high, besides the [Canadian] Rangers, so he may be the only one,” Patterson said. “It just bothered me that as a veteran, he didn’t have anything there.” Weetaltuk was born on the land in 1932 and grew up with his family on the islands in James Bay—often in famine conditions.
At age 19, Weetaltuk went to Ottawa and used a fake social insurance card to join the first battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. He hid his Inuit identity for many years and went by the name Eddy Vital. Weetaltuk trained as a mortar operator and served with the mortar platoon in the Korean War. He was later stationed at Armed Forces bases in British Columbia, Alberta and Quebec, before he left the forces in 1967.
Weetaluktuk also wrote his autobiography, with the help of a Quebec anthropologist, which was published shortly after his death. Edouard Pahud, the executive director of the Last Post Fund, said he’s grateful that the Prime Minister’s Office forwarded Patterson’s email. “It finally got to us,” Pahud said.
“We call this an unmarked grave, where a veteran has died and his grave isn’t properly marked. “Eddy’s grave will be more dignified with one of our tombstones.” Staff at the Last Post Fund will spend the next months gathering and verifying Weetaltuk’s military history. Weetaltuk’s grave marker is among the first—if not the only—one made for an Inuk veteran, Pahud said.
“There’s not a great enough awareness that we exist,” he said. “And that’s a challenge we’d like to address.”
National President, LCol Ray Mikkola as well as members from the Saskatchewan branch, Brad Hrycyna and Larry Wong attended the 54th Biannual ANAVETS convention held in Saskatoon from August 12th to 14th, 2018. National President, LCol Ray Mikkola’s presentation of the LPF aroused a lot of interest and when the session broke there was a sudden increase in traffic at our booth by the delegates.
Two members of the Last Post Fund, BC Branch, LCol (Ret.d) Romano Acconci and Maj (Ret.d) Gino Simeoni visited the Agira Canadian War Cemetery on Nov 10, 2017 and left a Canadian flag with LPF lapel pin on two burial sites: the youngest casualty, P.te J. Osborne, RCA, age 17, and the oldest casualty, P.te M. Alleman, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment, age 49. The Agira Canadian War Cemetery is located on a small hill in the Commune of Agira and the Province of Enna, in the heart of Sicily, approximately 70 kilometres from Catania. It contains the graves of 490 Canadians (13 members of the RCAF and 477 of the army), six of whom are unidentified. The complete article will be published in the next edition of The Bugler.
The Last Post Fund (LPF) BC Branch was invited to attend and to lay an official wreath at the Vancouver Vimy Day Commemoration at Mountain View Cemetery (MVC) on Sunday, April 8th, 2018. Officials in attendance included the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, Federal Minister of Justice, Members of Legislative Assembly and City of Vancouver councilors along with representatives of various veterans’ groups and regimental associations. Full article to be published in the next edition of The Bugler.
Her Honour The Honourable Judy M. Foote, P.C., O.N.L. Lieutenant Governor of Newfoundland and Labrador has graciously accepted our invitation to be the Honourary Patron of the Last Post Fund in Newfoundland and Labrador. The 14th lieutenant-governor of Newfoundland and Labrador was appointed on March 20, 2018. Prior to entering politics, Ms. Foote worked as a journalist and communications director. In addition to mentoring cancer patients, she has volunteered her time over the years with several organizations, including the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the United Nations Children’s Fund.
Her Honour The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia has graciously accepted our invitation to be the Honourary Patron of the Last Post Fund in British Columbia. The 30th lieutenant-governor of British Columbia was sworn in on April 24, 2018. Prior to this appointment, she spent 15 years as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro Vancouver, one of the province’s largest and most diversified non-profits. There she oversaw operations delivering services to tens of thousands of people annually at more than 40 locations.
On Monday June 4th 2018, Lieutenant-Colonel Raymond Mikkola, CD (Retired) was appointed as the National President of the Last Post Fund. LCol Mikkola will serve a two year term, replacing Rear-Admiral Barry Keeler, CD (Retired) who now occupies the role of Past President of the Executive committee. LCol Mikkola has been a member of the Ontario branch of the Last Post Fund for 23 years. He is a partner and head of the corporate commercial division at Pallett Valo LLP law firm, in Mississauga. On behalf of the staff and membership of the Last Post Fund, we wish to congratulate LCol Mikkola on his new role and we look forward to serving Canadian veterans and their families under his leadership.
It is with great honour that the Last Post Fund was awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Veterans Association’s Outstanding Service Award. The award was presented on Friday, June 1st 2018, by Tim Sparling, CD, Vice President of the CPVA.
The CPVA was founded in 1991 and is a national, traditional, all Veteran, all volunteer, not-for-profit, apolitical, democratically and constitutionally based organization with Chapters from St.John's Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. The Association's Mission Statement is: "To be a strong and leading advocate for all Veterans and to provide a forum of comradeship for Veterans". As it is open to all Veterans, the CPVA's membership includes the entire spectrum of WW 2, Korean War, Peacekeeping, NATO, Balkan and Afghanistan campaigns, RCMP, civilian police and other Veterans, and international members.
Amongst the reasons cited by Mr. Sparling for bestowing this award on the Last Post Fund were the importance of the service the Fund delivers to Veterans and their families and also, the remarkable dedication with which the Fund has delivered the program, for nearly 110 years.
The Last Post Fund’s Annual commemorative ceremony at the National Field of Honour was held on Sunday, June 3rd 2018. This year, the Guest of honour was Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, Mrs. Sherry Romanado. The Last Post Fund would like to sincerely thank everyone who participated in the event.
His Honour the Honourable W. Thomas Molloy, lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan has graciously accepted our invitation to be the Honourary Patron of the Last Post Fund in Saskatchewan.
The 22nd lieutenant-governor of Saskatchewan was sworn in on March 21st 2018.
It is a pleasure to announce that Mr. Edouard (Ed) Pahud, CPA, CA assumed the position of Last Post Fund Executive Director on 3 January 2018. Ed brings a wealth of talent and experience to the Fund and is poised to ensure that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial for lack of financial resources. The Last Post Fund is fortunate to have a person of his exceptional calibre join the team.
The Last Post Fund has always remained true to its mission since its creation in Montreal by Arthur Hair in 1909. The Fund has provided financial benefits to more than 150,000 Veterans in need and their families.
“Remember the Veteran”
Rear-Admiral Barry Keeler, CD (Retired)
National President, Last Post Fund
Click here for the official press release in PDF format
Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017
During the Board meeting of the Ontario Branch of the Last Post Fund, Monday November 20th, at the Royal Military Institute of Toronto, representatives of the Toronto Don Valley Freemason Lodge presented a donation of 19,000$. For a year, the Lodge has been raising funds to support the National Field of Honour, as well as other Last Post Fund commemoration projects. The Toronto Don Valley Lodge also announced that they will continue to support the Last Post Fund, in the future. This gesture of great generosity is highly appreciated.
Click here if you would like to donate to the Last Post Fund.
Victoria, BC, April 3, 2017 – Alistair Vigier appeared in BC Business’s 30 under 30 in the April magazine. Vigier worked for the Department of National Defence from 2007-2014 and was shot while on operation in 2009. After being medically released and recovering, Vigier started his career in marketing and sales with The Commissionaires.
In 2014 Vigier joined the Last Post Fund as a board member of the British Columbia office.
“I wanted to give back to the community and The Last Post Fund was something that was close to my heart. Throughout my medical release, I met a lot of veterans who were injured in Afghanistan or in other parts of the world,” said Vigier.
The Last Post Fund is a non-profit organization that has existed since 1909. The Last Post Fund raises funds for veterans who were honourably discharged and have fallen on hard times. It is the goal of The Last Post Fund to make sure that every Canadian veteran can afford a funeral.
The Last Post Fund wants to raise awareness of the fund, as many families of veterans do not know that the fund exists. If you know of a veteran who recently deceased, please contact the Last Post Fund. Toll Free 1 800 465-7113
In the case of a Veteran with a spouse or dependent children (or both), the combined assets of the couple are considered, excluding the following:
• A base amount of $36, 310 (raised from $12,015 on October 1st 2016)
• $700 per dependent child
• The family house and vehicle
• Income received during the month of death
On top of Vigier's volunteer work with the Last Post Fund, Vigier works in Investor Relations for HART Legal. HART Legal now has sixteen law firms throughout North America.
You can learn more about Vigier by viewing the BC BUSINESS article here: https://www.bcbusiness.ca/30-under-30-winner-Alistair-Vigier
The Veterans Ombudsman, in consultation with the Veterans Ombudsman's Advisory Council (VOAC), awards the Veterans Ombudsman Commendation, in recognition of the efforts of these individuals and groups. The intent of the Veterans Ombudsman Commendation is to recognize and honour the exceptional dedication, hard-work and selfless motivation of an individual or group's contribution to Canada's Veterans and their families.
This year, Lieutenant-General Louis Cuppens, C.M.M., C.D. (Ret’d) has been commended in the Lifetime contribution category. Lieutenant General Cuppens is a Past President of the Last Post Fund and continues to be an active member.
The Last Post Fund annual Commemorative Ceremonies took
Saturday June 3rd and Sunday June 4th in Montreal.
The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, was the Guest of Honour.
The Honourable Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence and
RAdm Barry Keeler (retired), President of the Last Post Fund
The Last Post Funds Annual Commemorative Ceremonies took place on Saturday June 3rd and Sunday June 4th.
On Saturday June 3rd, a ceremony honouring the memory of sailors took place by the historical Clock Tower in Old Montreal. Rear-Admiral Gilles Couturier, Deputy Commander or the Royal Canadian Navy was a gracious guest of Honour and spoke highly of HMCS Donnaconna, who provided precious assistance to flood victims in recent weeks.
On Sunday morning, a small group gathered to pay respects at the Field of Honour of Mount-Royal cemetery, before the larger ceremony in the West later that day in Pointe-Clare.
The Ceremony at the National Field of Honour was a great success. The Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, was the Guest of Honour for the occasion.
The Last Post Fund would like to thank everyone who participated in the 2017 Commemorative Ceremonies and we look forward to seeing you again next year!
Arthur Hair, founder of the Last Post Fund
THE YEAR IN BRIEF
A few statistics from 2016-2017
Funeral and Burial Program
The Last Post Fund approved 1,151 applications for grants (of which 60 for Allied Veterans), compared to 1,175 the previous year. Total payments reached $7,693,639.
462 Modern-Day Veterans receiving a disability compensation qualified for funeral and burial assistance through means-testing in accordance with the Veterans Burial Regulations. Veterans Affairs provided $551,007 for the delivery of 555 markers through the Program.
Unmarked Grave Program
During the year, 314 markers were installed. Total cost for Veterans Affairs Canada: $483,249. Since the inception of the Program in 1996, the graves of more than 4,500 Veterans have been identified and properly marked across the country. Total expenditure: $3.5M.
National Field of Honour
178 burials were conducted at the Field of Honour. Since 1930, the year of its inauguration, 22,031 burials have taken place at this unique military cemetery.
All Veterans have become eligible for the Funeral and Burial Program administered by the Fund on behalf of Veterans Affairs Canada. Donation funds are used exclusively to support activities that complement the Funeral and Burial Program. The Last Post Fund received $160,086.36$ in charity donations in 2016-2017.