Lest We Forget: Grand Forks Legion honours veterans on Remembrance Day

Ken Cruickshank (left) pinning the First Poppy on on Mayor Elect Everett Baker (right), Oct. 28. Photo provided by Ken CruickshankKen Cruickshank (left) pinning the First Poppy on on Mayor Elect Everett Baker (right), Oct. 28. Photo provided by Ken Cruickshank
The Grand Forks Royal Canadian Legion's Colour Guard makes its way to the cenotaph. Pictured from left to right are John Lepage, Mick Hanlon, David Davies, Megan Bain and Terry Doody. 
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A Grand Forks first responder lays a poppy next to a "thank you" vase at the foot of the cenotaph outside city hall at Wednesday, Nov. 11's Remembrance Day service. 
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On Nov. 11, people across the country will don their poppies and attend ceremonies to pay tribute to members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP.

Behind the scenes, however, there is much that goes on long before poppies get pinned.

In Grand Forks, the Remembrance Day program formed under the leadership of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #59. At the centre of the planning is Branch president Ken Cruickshank.

“It’s not just the [poppy] campaign and putting poppy trays out, it’s also working to get the Remembrance Day program put together as well, which is a combination between the party chair and the Branch itself. But as it turns out, in my case, I’m doing both duties. Certainly, with the support of members in helping out,” he said.

This year, community members can expect a program similar to ones in pre-pandemic years. However, the Legion has opted to have the parade start at the Branch before gathering at City Hall for the traditional ceremony. There will be no open house at the Branch following the event out of an abundance of caution since COVID-19 is still present in the community.

Cruickshank is expecting a large turnout this year. He says residents are looking to pay their respects in person as the pandemic windsdown and war continues to impact thousands worldwide.

“The generosity in Grand Forks for the poppy campaign has been phenomenal, and I anticipate that it will be the same or better this year because of refreshed conflicts in Ukraine and other parts of the world,” said Cruickshank.

“They’re recognizing that we need the role of peacekeepers in the world theatre.”

A longtime member of the Royal Canadian Legion, Cruickshank has been part of the organization for 12 years in various capacities.

When asked what Remembrance Day means to him, Cruickshank shared his personal connection to the day.

“For me, it was particularly close because my mother, father and brother were all in the military, and they all passed in the span of about 18 months, in 2007-2008. So, I became committed, particularly, to the Legion at that time, although I’d been a member off and on. But I became particularly attached to it and the poppy campaign in remembrance of their service to our country and their time in the military,” he said.

All money raised during the annual poppy campaign goes directly towards helping Canada’s veterans. Poppies can be found at local businesses across Grand Forks.

Remembrance Day