Mike Carter, Chetwynd Echo
CHETWYND – The Royal Canadian Legion, branch 258 in Chetwynd has not yet had its charter pulled despite closing its doors earlier this month. But the ailing branch is very clearly on its last legs.
Only the community can help reverse its fate, says Inga Kruse, executive director of the BC/Yukon legion command.
The main problem boils down to a lack of interest and a lack of membership. But it may not be too late to save the legion.
“They need help. I would send [people] up there to train a new executive, and make sure the liquor rules are being followed and all of those things. I would give them anything they needed that would save that branch, but it has to be sustainable,” Kruse said.
The legion announced it would be closing on March 1, saying it did not have enough members on the executive, which put it in violation of the legion charter. Legion president Karen Buckley acknowledged the small staff was over worked and had little help.
“We could not go on like this it was burning [us] out, we tried for a long time,” Buckley said in an email.
The Chetwynd Echo contacted executive director Kruse after several local members had raised concerns over not being properly informed about the legion’s closure.
“I don’t have Facebook,” one life long member said. “The extent of my computer skills is I go on and play solitaire. In the past, they have held meetings and done everything they could before closing the doors, and people always stepped up.”
Several veterans echoed these concerns, saying it came as a complete surprise to hear that the legion had closed.
But, Kruse says a meeting was held in November and efforts were made to get the necessary members, to no avail.
“They have nobody to run it. The reality is that they’ve got nobody to do it. They’re burnt out and they feel that they haven’t got the support they wanted.
“We talked to Chetwynd and I was there myself and basically we implemented a process to get letters out and it was quite a bit of work,” she said. “We got a hold of the president and we said what do you want to do? Because, you haven’t got a full executive normally that is immediately a problem.”
Kruse says she let the branch have a lot of leeway, but it has come to a point where they have “pretty much ran out of options.”