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Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164 presents first poppies

Tla'amin Nation, qathet Regional District, City of Powell River and local Métis association leaders on hand for campaign kickoff
REMEMBRANCE PRESENTATION: Assembling for the first poppy presentation ceremony are [from left] Michael Koestlmaier, president of Branch 164 of the Royal Canadian Legion, Jason Hygaard, director of qathet Métis Nation Powell River, Tla’amin Nation hegus John Hackett, City of Powell River mayor Dave Formosa and qathet Regional District board chair Patrick Brabazon. The local branch of the Legion, for the second year, has presented the first poppies to community leaders.

Leaders of the three local governments and the local Métis association were presented the first poppies, honouring those who have served in the country in military duty.

Michael Koestlmaier, president of Royal Canada Legion Branch 164 (Powell River), said the significance of the first poppy presentation dates back almost to the beginning of the poppy campaign when it first started in 1921.

“The first poppy of the year is traditionally presented by the dominion president of the Royal Canadian Legion to the governor general, on or about this time every year,” said Koestlmaier. “The first poppy was presented to the governor general at 10 am, eastern time (October 25), and subsequently, the provincial command followed, with the lieutenant governor being presented the first poppy this year at 10 am at the legislature.

“We felt we could carry on this tradition here in Powell River, and as a way of fostering reconciliation, we wanted to include the Tla’amin Nation, qathet Regional District, and the City of Powell River as well.”

This year’s ceremony, where the poppies were presented to the leaders, was the second year that Royal Canadian Legion Branch 164 had invited the leaders to a special ceremony. This year’s ceremony was held at Tla’amin’s governance house for the first time.

“What I wanted to do is start this tradition and do it on a rotational basis between all the venues and all the key players,” said Koestlmaier.

Last year’s first ceremony was held at city hall, and the intention will be to go to qathet Regional District in 2023.

Poppies will be going out to the public shortly. The official poppy campaign starts October 28 and the Legion branch will be distributing poppy boxes in numerous venues from Lund to Saltery Bay. Money raised from poppy sales remains in the community.

Koestlmaier said for the most part, the poppy fund is used to support veterans, for veterans’ advocacy, and bursaries for students.

According to the Royal Canadian Legion’s website, the poppy is a powerful symbol of remembrance. From the last Friday in October to Remembrance Day, millions of Canadians wear poppies as a visual pledge to never forget those who served and sacrificed.

The Legion stated that it invites everyone across the country to show their recognition by proudly wearing this symbol of remembrance.