The first poppies in Saskatchewan were presented at a ceremony Friday morning from Government House to begin the 2019 poppy campaign.
Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russ Mirasty and his wife Donna Mirasty received their poppies from Keith Andrews, Saskatchewan’s command president with the Royal Canadian Legion.
While the ceremony itself lasted only a couple minutes, the event holds a special place for Mirasty who served in a number of positions with the RCMP for 36 years before being named lieutenant governor in July.
He said receiving the first poppy on behalf of the people of Saskatchewan is a very meaningful occasion. “It’s a real honour, personally. What it means behind the visual of the poppy and remembering veterans, people we lost,” he stated.
After Andrews handed a poppy to the lieutenant governor, his wife was presented with the second.
It was an emotional experience for Donna Friday morning. Her family has a deep connection serving in the Canadian Armed Forces after her father and uncles fought in World War II. Mrs. Mirasty’s father was badly wounded while serving in France and was brought back to Canada where he was treated.
For her, receiving the second poppy in Saskatchewan is an honour.
“Both of my parents would have loved this,” she said while holding back tears. “The maple leaf was very important to my father. We were always told as children to never forget this.”
Donna Mirasty also hails from Cumberland House, which according to a statement from the Lt.-Gov. office, had the highest per capita enlistment of indigenous peoples in Saskatchewan during the Second World War.
Poppies are now available to the public and will be at located at participating merchants and public venues across Saskatchewan.
Poppy donations help support veteran programs
With large events taking place this weekend in Regina, you may spot some people distributing poppies to kick off the poppy campaign.
The Royal Canadian Legion, Regina Branch 001 says they plan to have Air, Army, Sea and Navy cadets offering poppies on Saturday throughout locations in Regina.
Andrews, who has been with the Royal Canadian Legion for 39 years, talked about the importance of donations from poppies at this time of the year. While they serve as a reminder to remember those who have served in the armed forces, money that goes to the Poppy Fund benefits local legion branches to assist veterans and their programs.
“Our service officers are very busy and they are getting busier all the time looking after veterans that come in needing help,” explained Andrews.
A new program the legion has launched with the Dominion of Canada will focus on mental health aid for veterans. Other services include medical and housing assistance and transportation.
For an added cost, people will also be able to purchase a centre pin to better secure their poppies to their clothing or outerwear.
The poppy campaign leads into Veteran’s Week which runs from November 4 to 11.