New Legion nears membership goal

Okotoks: Former town councillor voted acting president

By: Don Patterson

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 12:08 pm

Malcolm Hughes, deputy commander of District No. 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion, in front of the Elks Hall in Okotoks on July 28. Hughes is one of the members leading a charge to re-instate the Legion in Okotoks.
Malcolm Hughes, deputy commander of District No. 5 of the Royal Canadian Legion, in front of the Elks Hall in Okotoks on July 28. Hughes is one of the members leading a charge to re-instate the Legion in Okotoks.
JORDAN VERLAGE/OWW

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A local group working to re-establish an Okotoks branch of the Royal Canadian Legion is close to reaching its goal.

Ralph Wilson, a former town councillor and former commander of the Okotoks RCMP detachment, was recently selected as acting president of the Okotoks Legion and Okotokian Larry Schielke was selected as secretary/treasurer.

Meanwhile, a recruitment campaign to attract new members is near the target needed to establish a new charter.

Wilson said the main focus for efforts to form the new legion is attracting the required minimum of 50 people who are not currently a member of any other Legion branch.

“I though it would be good to see the Legion get settled here in town again,” he said. “I’m sure they’ll have lots of members once it gets rolling.”

Wilson said there are as many as 39 members signed up.

Once a charter is in place, he said members from other Legion branches can then transfer to the Okotoks Legion.

Okotoks was once home to a branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, but it closed its doors in the 1990s.

Wilson is a recent recruit to the Legion. He admitted he hadn’t given much thought to joining the legion over the years because he didn’t serve in the military.

Wilson was convinced to join by fellow Okotoks resident Malcolm Hughes, who is the deputy commander of the legion’s district #5,

Wilson said Hughes told him former RCMP officers are eligible to join and convinced him of the value of being a member.

Hughes has been one of the main forces behind the drive to open an Okotoks branch of the Legion. He said he saw interest from a number of people in town about setting up an Okotoks branch of the Legion.

“As a command officer it’s incumbent on me to do what I can to expand the Legion,” he said. “I took on the task of getting out and trying to get some publicity.”

Hughes said Okotoks has a strong tradition of service clubs helping the community and the Royal Canadian Legion would fit in well with the community.

Once the branch has a charter in place, he expects it to grow as members of other branches transfer.

“I actually have probably 100 names of people who want to be part of the branch and obviously, deductively you can tell quite a few of them are members of other legions but live in Okotoks,” said Hughes.

Membership isn’t just open to veterans and former members of the Canadian forces.

There are different levels of membership open to former RCMP and police officers and relatives of veterans or police. Canadians with no military connection can even become affiliate-voting members and non-Canadians can become affiliate non-voting members.

Okotoks membership fees have been set at $40 for new members, $50 for former members looking to rejoin and everyone joining the Okotoks branch, even those transferring from other locations will pay a $10 enrollment fee.

Meetings for the Okotoks legion branch are held at the Okotoks Elk Hall. For more information, contact okotoks.legion@gmail.com


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