Duck Lake Legion officials Rachelle and Denis Poirier are spearheading the poppy campaign in the region

Remembrance Day lapel poppies will be available at dozens of businesses in communities across the region  beginning Friday, October 27 thanks to the efforts of dedicated volunteers from the Duck Lake Legion branch.

The Royal Canadian Legion’s National Poppy Campaign officially begins Thursday, October 26 with the presentation of the first poppies to Saskatchewan Lieutenant-Governor Russ Mirasty and his wife Donna Mirasty at a ceremony in Regina. The presentation will be made by Darrell Webster, Provincial Chair of the Royal Canadian Legion – Saskatchewan Command.

The poppies are distributed freely to all who wish to wear one. However, the Legion gratefully accepts donations to the Poppy Fund, which support programs for war veterans and their families.

Duck Lake Legion branch President Denis Poirier said the poppy is a visual pledge to honour Canada’s veterans.

“It’s a national symbol of remembrance for those who sacrificed so much for the freedoms we enjoy today,” said Poirier. “When we look at the condition of the world today, with all the wars going on, and the chaos and suffering, it’s a stark reminder that democracy is always under threat, and that we should never take our way of life for granted.

“We wouldn’t have the freedoms we enjoy today if it hadn’t been for our veterans during World War II and other wars.

“Wearing a poppy is a way of showing respect and remembering their sacrifices.”

Veterans’ graves at the cemetery in North Battleford

Denis Poirier and his wife, Duck Lake Legion branch treasurer Rachelle Poirier, are coordinating the distribution of 20,000 poppies to businesses, schools and civic institutions in Warman, Martensville, Osler, Hague, Hepburn, Waldheim, Rosthern, Laird, Duck Lake and Beardy’s & Okemasis First Nation. 

The couple deliver the majority of poppies to outlets in  the two cities as well as Osler and Hague. They’re assisted by Duck Lake Legion branch Secretary Alana Anderson, Duck Lake Legion Vice-President Trina Parenteau, and local Legion members Neal Nicolas, Sherry Alexandrovich and Gail Davidson, who take care of the other centres.

Cadets are also active in distributing poppies in communities.

Veterans’ graves at Saskatoon’s Woodlawn Cemetery

Denis and Rachelle Poirier have been spearheading the regional poppy campaign since 2015, when the Rosthern Legion branch folded, and the Duck Lake Legion branch took over the distribution of poppies to Rosthern and Duck Lake.

“We decided at that time that since we were the only active Legion branch, we should cover the whole Sask Valley area,” said Denis Poirier. “It’s grown every year, and it just keeps expanding as more businesses open up in Martensville and Warman.

“We also do all the schools in the area. It’s a big job, but it’s a labour of love. We do it because we believe it’s really important. Rachelle’s father was a veteran, and he was President of the Duck Lake Legion for many years. I was good friends with a World War I veteran when I was a young person, and it made a big impression on me. I think we need to keep the poppy campaign going to show respect for our veterans.”

A memorial to fallen World War I soldiers in Saskatoon’s Woodlawn Cemetery

The Royal Canadian Legion encourages Canadians to wear lapel poppies beginning on the last Friday of October through to Remembrance Day on November 11.

Remembrance Day services will be held at the Belladrome in Duck Lake, hosted by the Duck Lake Legion branch, on Saturday, November 11 beginning at 10:30 a.m. Denis Poirier said the program includes a bugler who will perform the Last Post, and the colour party features members of the Rosthern RCMP detachment.

The Cenotaph in Warman honours veterans from the area

Remembrance Day services are also scheduled in Warman at the Warman Home Centre Communiplex and in Saskatoon at SaskTel Centre.