As the newly appointed National President of the Last Post Fund, I am inspired by the confidence placed in me by the Governing Council.
I feel the weight of responsibility to lead the LPF in the next leg of its already 105-year history.
Click here for his complete message to members and supporters of the Fund.
First row, left to right:
Capt (N) Peter Langlais (Ret'd), LPF Honorary President
MGen Edward S. Fitch (Ret’d), National President
HCol Daniel F. O’Connor, Past President
RAdm Barry Keeler (Ret’d), Vice-President East
LGen Lou Cuppens (Ret’d), Past Honorary Treasurer
Sgt John Bertram (Ret’d), representing LCol Hans Brink (Ret’d), President – Alberta
LCol Raymond Mikkola (Ret'd), Honorary Legal Advisor
Mr. Jean-Pierre Goyer, LPF Executive Director
LCol Al Gallop (Ret’d), President – New-Brunswick/PEI
Col Charles Kepple (Ret’d), President – Saskatchewan and Vice-President West
BGen Pierre Boucher (Ret’d), President - Québec
Capt Ike Hall (Ret’d), President – British Columbia and Honorary Treasurer
LCol Guy Rousseau (Ret’d), President, National Field of Honour
LCol Chris Bodner (Ret’d), President – Manitoba
Mr. André Lévesque, Veterans Affairs Canada representative
Lt Don Newell (Ret'd), President – Newfoundland-Labrador
Col Doug Briscoe (Ret’d), President – Ontario
Absent: Mr. Roderick Morrison, President – Nova Scotia
Left to right: Mr. Jean-Pierre Goyer, Last Post Fund Executive Director; the Honourable Julian Fantino,
Minister of Veterans Affairs Canada; and HCol Daniel O'Connor, Last Post Fund National President.
12 February 2014 - Last Post Fund National President HCol Daniel O'Connor expressed relief and satisfaction with the recent federal budget. "I am very pleased that the issue of eligibility of Modern-Day Veterans for the Veterans Affairs Funeral and Burial Program has been positively dealt with in this budget," says Colonel O'Connor. "The Last Post Fund has been pressing for this recognition for more than a decade, and now all Canadian Veterans are eligible for this important program for the estates of Veterans who die with limited financial resources. From fulfilling our mission in recent years for ineligible Veterans, our donation funds had been virtually exhausted."
Since 1909, the Last Post Fund has had as its prime mission the assurance of a dignified funeral and burial for all Canadian Veterans who pass away with very limited or no financial resources. In 1922, the Government of Canada first recognized its obligation, on behalf of all Canadians, to provide funding to meet this need. However, in recent decades the Regulations governing the Funeral and Burial Program have stipulated that only Second World War and Korean Veterans, and those in receipt of a disability compensation, were eligible for the program, leaving out most of the more than 600,000 Modern-Day Veterans, who have also served their country, prepared to pay the ultimate price. Now, the government has recognized that all Canadian Veterans are eligible for the Funeral and Burial Program.
The Last Post Fund is grateful for the support of all Canadian veterans' organizations that have unanimously supported this demand, particularly the Royal Canadian Legion. Colonel O'Connor adds, "The government is to be applauded for doing the right thing in recognizing and correcting this issue, particularly in a time of fiscal restraint."
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
The following is an excerpt from the 2014 federal budget tabled by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty in the House of Commons on 11 February.
Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes $108.2 million over three years, starting in 2013-14, to expand eligibility for the Funeral and Burial Program to ensure that modern-day veterans of modest means have access to a dignified funeral and burial.
The Government wants to ensure that the men and women who fought for our country have access to the programs and services they need. This includes a commitment to providing a dignified funeral and burial for veterans of modest financial means.
Economic Action Plan 2013 invested $65 million over two years to simplify the Funeral and Burial Program for veterans' estates and to increase the funeral services reimbursement rate from $3,600 to $7,376.
Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes a further investment of $108.2 million over three years, starting in 2013-14, to expand eligibility of the program to ensure that modern-day veterans of modest means have access to a dignified funeral and burial.
On 9 December, Lee Bragg, CEO of Eastlink, (left) presented Ret’d Rear-Admiral Barry Keeler, LPF Vice-President East, with a donation to the Last Post Fund, Nova Scotia Branch. Dale Stevens, Clerisy Entertainment (right) co-produced the documentary “Fallen Soldier” for which Eastlink recently won a Community Channel Award from the Canadian Cable Systems Alliance (CCSA).
Please give generously to the Last Post Fund fundraising campaign. You can call us toll free at 1 800-465-7113 or go to this Website, section "Donate to the Last Post Fund".
WWI Hero from Nelson, BC
In Nelson, BC., local historian Greg Scott, while researching the history of stained glass windows of St. Saviour’s Anglican Cathedral, found this inscription “In Loving Memory of John Clement (Cap) Carruthers 1862 – 1948”. Carruthers is also commemorated on a plaque next to the church’s columbarium. However, there was no headstone identifying him at the Nelson cemetery.
Scott took it upon himself to investigate whether this oversight could be rectified, as he believes that all veterans should be remembered with a marker. A successful application was made to Last Post Fund, which culminated last October when City of Nelson workers erected the monument over Carruthers’ grave.
Born in England, John “Cap” Carruthers came to British Columbia in 1897, making Nelson his headquarters. During the First World War, Cap enlisted in the locally raised 54th Kootenay Battalion, setting an example to the eligible young men of Nelson. At the time Captain Carruthers – title taken not from a military past but from his seafaring – was 44-years-old, perhaps considered too old for military service. To quote him, “I am in pretty good shape now, a trifle overweight perhaps, but by the time the boys go under canvas, I will be as fit as the best of them”. He admonished middle-aged men for not enlisting and urged younger men to prove their worth by enlisting.
By the time his Battalion left for England in 1915, Cap had been promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant and would eventually attain the rank of Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant while in France. He then turned down an officer’s commission in order to stay with “his boys”. The Battalion arrived in France in 1916 and was soon in action but Cap was returned to England in 1917 as “being physically unfit for further service”. Sent home to Canada, he was officially discharged in 1918, his true age of 55 having finally caught up with him (he had lied about his birth date, claiming he was born in 1871 instead of 1862).
Upon his death in 1948 at age 86, a large funeral was held at St. Saviour’s with his flag draped casket borne through the Church by members of the Canadian Legion. This past November 11, it was the Legion’s privilege to place poppies on Carruthers’ headstone.
Source: Greg Scott in the Nelson Star, December 5, 2013
13 December 2013 -- The following is an open letter by LGen Walter Semianiw, Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Communications and Commemoration at Veterans Affairs Canada, expressing his views on the Funeral and Burial Program that the Last Post Fund delivers on behalf of the Department. It is followed by comments from LGen L.W.F. Cuppens, Last Post Fund Honorary Treasurer.
Funeral and Burial Program for our Veterans
A new report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer has put our Funeral and Burial Program for Veterans in the media spotlight again. Unfortunately, the recent coverage has often only repeated a number of persistent myths about what is a very important program. I would like to take this opportunity to set the facts straight.
The first myth about our Funeral and Burial Program is that it is only available to "traditional Veterans" – the men and women who served during the Second World War and the Korean War. This simply is not true. Through our program, we help lay to rest all Veterans who die of a service-related disability. We call this a "matter of right," and it applies to these Veterans whether they served in France or Korea or if they served in Bosnia or Afghanistan. We are here for all of them.
The second myth is that the program only helps to defray funeral expenses. This is a particularly odd mistake because, as the program's name indicates, we also cover the actual costs of a burial – including such things as the opening and closing of a cemetery plot, a graveliner, a military-style grave marker and the perpetual care of the gravesite.
A third myth suggests that Canada is not doing as much as other countries to care for our fallen Veterans. Just the opposite is true. In fact, Canadians would be surprised to learn that Canada is one of the few countries to offer financial assistance for Veterans' funerals and burials, and our rates are among the most generous in the world.
With the new enhancements that took effect in June, we've also just made the program even better. This includes more than doubling the maximum support available for funeral expenses, from $3,600 to $7,376, and making the program more flexible to respect Veterans' religious and cultural differences. These improvements have allowed us to provide, on average, an extra $2,000 in assistance over the first five months, and we now have instances where our total contribution is approaching as much as $10,000.
Having said all this, there are other Veterans whose funeral and burial costs will not qualify for coverage under our program. Often this simply reflects the original intent of the program – which was launched almost a century ago – to help ensure a dignified funeral and burial for Veterans who were in financial need.
This has led to one last myth I would like to address. Some critics claim that Veterans have to be financially destitute when they pass away in order for their families to qualify for assistance. Again, that's not true.
In fact, the simple means test we use for these Veterans includes significant exemptions to avoid leaving survivors strapped for cash after they bury a loved one. For example, our regulations allow a survivor to exempt the family home, primary car and the first $12,015 in savings when calculating their net assets.
We are proud to be able to provide this kind of support in recognition of the service of Canada's Veterans and the sacrifices they made on behalf of our country.
Lt.-Gen. Walter Semianiw
Assistant Deputy Minister
Policy, Communications and Commemoration
Veterans Affairs Canada
The recent letter circulated by LGen Walter Semianiw of Veterans Affairs Canada concerning the federal government’s Funeral and Burial Program clearly sets forth the facts about the program in an understandable way. These facts are also listed on the Web sites of the Last Post Fund and Veterans Affairs Canada. Unfortunately, several facts are missing from that letter. Allow me to place them before you.
First, all Veterans groups across Canada have been advocating for almost 15 years that: the government increase the funeral allowances for Veterans; that the estate exemption be set at a more responsible level (it was cut in half in 1995 and disadvantages many Veterans’ survivors); and that Modern Day Veterans (those who have served in the Canadian Armed Forces since the end of the Korean war) be included in the Funeral and Burial Program on the same basis as traditional Veterans.
I am proud that the government has addressed one of our concerns and doubled the funeral allowances that we have advocated for so long. I am disappointed that it did not address the remaining two issues.
It is a fact that most Modern Day Veterans remain ineligible for the federal government’s Funeral and Burial Program. Because of eligibility criteria and the estate exemption, our estimate is that 90 % of Modern Day Veterans are denied access to the program and must rely upon charity to receive a dignified funeral and burial. Recall that donation funds totaling almost $100,000 have been used to bury 29 Modern Day Veterans in the last two years. These Veterans at the time of their death did not have the financial means to be provided with a dignified burial.
What also remains disappointing is that survivors of Veterans, who are in financial need at time of death and not eligible for assistance because of the legislated estate exemption, must use their hard-earned money to provide a dignified funeral and burial for the Veteran. This is surely the responsibility of the Government of Canada. If the estate exemption were increased, the many disadvantaged Veterans families reported in the media might become eligible for the program!
LGen L.W.F. Cuppens (Ret)
Last Post Fund Honorary Treasurer
4 November 2013 -- Having watched and read the Speech from the Throne delivered by the Queen's representative, I am appalled at the misinformation given to Canadians about Canada's commitments to Veterans.
To have the Queen's representative state that the Government provides a dignified funeral to Veterans is a falsehood, in part!
What I think the representative meant to say is that the Funeral and Burial Program, which extends a dignified funeral to Veterans of the Second World War and Korean War who are financially challenged at the time of death, continues. The statement in the Speech from the Throne, which is not filled with facts, is misleading to Canadians!
With few exceptions, Modern Day Veterans (those who served after the Korean War) remain ineligible for the Federal Government program. The source of funds to bury those Veterans who are financially challenged at time of death is charity - not government and not what the Speech from the Throne states. Readers will know that charity has enabled 23 Veterans to be buried at a cost of $90,000 through the Last Post Fund donation monies, and not by the Federal Government! Why is that so, when the Speech from the Throne says otherwise?
How will you remember as the Remembrance period approaches? Will you recall the false statement in the Speech from the Throne? Or will you recall Government's failure to support Veterans? I will salute all who have served Canada, and with profound shame, I will recall how the Government has failed to support despite pleas from all Veterans groups for more than a decade.
Please donate to the Last Post Fund to fulfill a Government and nation's promise - that we support Veterans.
LGen L.W.F. Cuppens (Ret’d)
Nauwigewauk, New Brunswick
Find the Speech of the Throne at http://speech.gc.ca
2 October 2013 -- The recent Ombudsman’s Report on Veterans’ issues shows that much work needs to be done by the Government of Canada to help those who willingly placed themselves in harm’s way. The Last Post Fund, supported by all Veterans groups in Canada, has been urging that Modern-Day Veterans be included in the Government’s Funeral and Burial Program on the same basis as Veterans of the two World Wars and the Korean War. Sadly, after more than a decade of advocacy, this item is not addressed.
What is even more disappointing is that there were six major recommendations made in the report that led to the publication of the Veterans’ Charter in 2006, but through bureaucratic bungling, the recommendation to include Modern-Day Veterans in the Government’s Funeral and Burial Program was omitted. Oh what could have been!
Just in the past two fiscal years to this point, the Last Post Fund has had to use donation monies ($93,000) to bury 29 Modern-Day Veterans who were not eligible for the Government’s Funeral and Burial Program. It saddens me that the Government of Canada has not stepped up to this sacred obligation and that the Last Post Fund must rely on charity to bury Veterans who are financially challenged at the time of their death. Perhaps the Provincial Governments across Canada could assist where the Federal Government clearly will not.
As the Remembrance period approaches, we are asked, “How will you remember”? I shall remember the sacrifices that our Veterans and families have made for our freedom. I shall reflect on the Federal Government’s inaction on this issue and that the survivors of these Veterans continue to be disadvantaged.
LGen L.W.F Cuppens (retired)
Last Post Fund Honorary Treasurer
2 October 2013 -- Who will look after the remains of a destitute Veteran?
The federal government’s Funeral and Burial Program addresses well this issue as it pertains to Canada’s traditional Veterans, but not so for those who have served since the end of the Korean War. Of the 650,000 Modern-Day Veterans, Veterans Affairs Canada estimates that each year 400 of these will die in poverty.
The government of Canada has failed to extend the Funeral and Burial Program to Modern-Day Veterans on the same basis as traditional Veterans. This means that when a Veteran passes away, family and friends are faced with a financial challenge. If that challenge is too great, it would result in the Veteran being placed in a pauper’s grave in accordance with the province’s social assistance programs. Imagine this person, who defended Canada’s interests anywhere and without question, is not eligible for a Veteran’s funeral and must rely on charity at the moment of need.
Did you know that Correctional Service Canada provides for a funeral and burial and headstone for a convict who dies while in prison or on parole if the financial means to provide for such are not existent at time of death? Convicts are provided for, yet Canada’s Veterans must rely on the Last Post Fund. Kindly donate to the Last Post Fund to bury a Veteran since Canada’s government will not. A Veteran is not a convict and deserves our gratitude.
LGen L.W.F. Cuppens (retired)
Last Post Fund Honorary Treasurer
Fundraising Campaign Coordinator
To make a donation: see section “Donate to the Last Post Fund”of our Website or call us toll-free at 1-800-465-7113.
I would like to thank the Last Post Fund for their outstanding support of my Mom’s funeral…
Had it not been for your support, the family would have had her cremated and I would have kept her affordable urn in my living room.
Our meager family gathered to send her off. We were all amazed at how beautiful things turned out. The flowers you allowed us to buy were beautiful and comforting. Without your involvement she would not have had any flowers, a hall, not even a service.
I wrote up the church service myself, the family selected hymns that my Mom knew and loved. My son led the music on his sax and we sang out in harmony. It was beautiful. Another son of mine and his daughter sang The Old Rugged Cross, my mother’s favorite hymn and they did extremely well. The bagpipe rang out and led us into the church. As the player stood in front of the poppy wreath and piped a tribute to another fallen soldier, I assure you there was not a dry eye in the place. He piped us out of the church with Amazing Grace. …
Brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and friends will always cherish and remember her send off. It was a great gift that the Last Post Fund kindly provided.
Through heated tears I extend my gratitude and may you continue to do your great work.
(A Veteran’s daughter)
18 June 2013 -- Directors of the Last Post Fund Governing Council for the year 2013-2014:
Left to right, first row: Mr. André Lévesque, Veterans Affairs Canada representative; LGen Louis Cuppens (Ret'd), Honorary Treasurer; Col Daniel O'Connor (Ret'd), National President; LCol Evelyn Kelly (Ret'd), Past National President; Lt Don Newell (Ret'd), President, Newfoundland-Labrador. Upper row: LCol Raymond Mikkola (Ret'd), Honorary Legal Advisor; LCol Yves Martin (Ret'd), Vice-President, Last Post Fund National Field of Honour; RAdm Barry Keeler (Ret'd), Vice-President East ; BGen Pierre Boucher (Ret'd), President, Québec ; Capt N Frank Hope (Ret'd), President, Nova Scotia; Mr. Ike Hall, President, British Columbia; Col Charles Kepple (Ret'd), President, Saskatchewan; LCdr David Yeo (Ret'd), President, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island; Col J. Douglas Briscoe (Ret'd), President, Ontario ; and Mr. Jean-Pierre Goyer, Last Post Fund Executive Director. Absent: Capt Gordon Criggar (Ret'd), President, Manitoba; and MGen Ed Fitch (Ret'd), Vice-President West.
14 February 2013 – Despite the urging of the Veterans Affairs Ombudsman and all Veterans groups, governments have not addressed the funeral and burial issues that have been brought to their attention. Most recently the President of Dominion Command of the Royal Canadian Legion circulated an open letter to the media asking the government “what are you waiting for” with respect to this matter.
A recent Opinion piece by this writer presented data on just several Modern Day Veterans and their families who needed assistance, and illustrated that the government would not provide for their dignified funeral and burial.
The number of Modern Day Veterans in need of financial assistance to be provided with a dignified funeral continues to increase. During 2012 the Last Post Fund used donation funds to provide a dignified funeral for 12 Veterans who were not eligible for the federal government Funeral and Burial Program. More applications for such assistance continue to be received, reviewed and responded to by the Last Post Fund.
Imagine, volunteer citizens place their lives at risk in defending Canada’s interests, yet when an indigent Veteran requires funeral and burial financial assistance, his or her government fails to respond. Since our Veterans respond when called, should not our government also respond to their final need, if required? Thankfully, the Last Post Fund’s charitable donation funds have assisted in arranging and funding the funeral and burial of Modern Day Veterans who, for the most part, are denied benefits by their government.
What a disgrace to Canada! Almost all Modern Day Veterans in need are not even granted the honour of a dignified funeral, the same honour that their WW2 and Korean War veteran counterparts remain eligible for. The government may boast their success as a G8 nation, they may boast that they have done much for our Veterans, they may boast that they have re-built the military, but when it comes to Veterans’ benefits they are not doing enough. Just ask some of the Veterans groups or the Ombudsman—they will all illustrate that there is much not done despite the needs, particularly for funerals and burials.
We, the citizens of Canada, ought to be asking the government and our local MP: “What are you waiting for”?
For those wishing to donate to the Last Post Fund to help Modern Day Veterans in need, one need only refer to our Website, section Donate to the Last Post Fund, or call our national toll free number: 1-800-465-7113.
Lieutenant-General (retired) L.W.F. Cuppens
Chair of the Last Post Fund Fundraising Committee
13 November 2012 – Close to 500 visitors attended the Remembrance Day commemorative ceremony at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, QC organized in collaboration with the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School of the Saint-Jean Garrison.
Master Corporal Rose near the School Recruits.
A solemn moment of silence.
Guest of honour at the ceremony, BGen (Ret'd) Richard Genin lays a wreath for the Last Post Fund.
Master Corporal Rose, from the School Recruit Division, is going to lay a commemorative wreath.
At the end of the ceremony, the School recruits were escorted by the Piper.
Guest of Honour BGen (Ret'd) Richard Genin (left) with LCol (Ret'd) Guy Rousseau, Master of Ceremony.
2 October 2012 -- Five Last Post Fund members were awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for their meritorious deeds on behalf of Canadian Veterans.
Left to right: Lieutenant Colonel (Ret'd) Evelyn Kelly from Toronto, Past National President, was honored for her contribution to the community and for raising awareness of the Funeral and Burial Program; Read Admiral (Ret'd) Barry Keeler from Nova Scotia, Vice-President East, for his outstanding service to his community and his tireless efforts to assist Veterans and their families through his volunteer work with the Royal Canadian Naval Benevolent Fund and the Last Post Fund in Nova Scotia; Lieutenant General (Ret'd) Lou Cuppens from New Brunswick, LPF Honorary Treasurer, for his distinguished service to the country and to the Last Post Fund; Colonel (Ret'd) Yves Martin from Québec, Vice-President of the LPF National Field of Honour, for his engagement of 20 years as Aide-de-Camp for four successive Québec Lieutenant-Governors; and Commander (Ret'd) Don Uhrich from Nova Scotia (no photo available), for his extensive volunteer service at the Nova Scotia Naval Officers Association, the CFB Halifax Officers Mess and the Last Post Fund in Nova Scotia.
Our sincere congratulations to these five recipients for a well-deserved recognition!
14 August 2012 -- In the August issue of the Canadian Business Journal, reporter R. Brent Lang wrote an inspiring article on the Last Post Fund. The purpose of his article is twofold:
For the full article, click on this link: http://www.cbj.ca/features/aug_12_features/the_last_post_fund.html
19 June 2012 -- Members of the Last Post Fund Governing Council for 2012-2013:
Left to right, first row: Mr. Arthur (Chip) Hair, Past Honorary President; LGen (Ret’d) Lou Cuppens, Honorary Treasurer; HCol Kenneth Garbutt, Vice- President West; LCol (R) Evelyn Kelly, Past National President; LCol (R) Daniel O’Connor, LPF new National President; and RAdm (R) Barry Keeler, Vice-President East.
Second row: Col (R) William Fletcher, President, AB Branch; Cmdre (R) Jean-Claude Michaud, President, QC Branch; Lt (R) Donald W. Newell, President, NL Branch; Col (R) Douglas J. Briscoe, President, ON Branch; LCol (R) Yves Martin, Vice-President, LPF National Field of Honour; Capt (R) Gordon Criggar, President, MB—SK Branch; Navy Capt (R) Peter Langlais, Honorary President; Mr. Derek Sullivan, Veterans Affairs Canada; LCdr (R) David Yeo, President, NB—PE Branch; LCol (R) Raymond Mikkola, LPF Honorary Legal Advisor; MGen (R) Ed Fitch, President, BC Branch; and Mr. Jean-Pierre Goyer, LPF Executive Director.
4 June 2012 -- The Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, was the guest of honour of the Last Post Fund National President, LCol (Ret’d) Evelyn Kelly, during a commemorative ceremony at the National Field of Honour on Sunday 3 June. This annual event pays tribute to Veterans – Navy, Air Force and Army – who defended the values of freedom and democracy that are most important for our country.
This was the Minister’s first visit to the National Field of Honour, the final resting place for 21,000 military and their families. They originate not only from all Canadian provinces, but also from 41 countries worldwide. Dedicated in 1930, it is the only cemetery in Canada entirely devoted to Canadian and Allied Veterans. On this occasion, their graves were decorated with small flags installed by a local group of Scouts and delivered by the Royal Canadian Legion. More than a thousand guests came to pay their respects or just gathered for this moving and solemn ceremony. After reviewing the Canadian Forces Guard of Honour, the Legion Colours and the Military Band, the Minister Steven Blaney delivered a thoughtful address of which we reproduce some excerpts:
After a gun salute from the 3e Batterie d’artillerie de campagne de Montréal, some thirty wreaths were laid on the ground in memory of departed Veterans by various groups and personalities. Minister Blaney and LCol Kelly then met with Veterans from the Ste-Anne de Bellevue hospital.
“In many ways, this ceremony held in memory of our Canadian Veterans and Allies has rich and deep meanings. It expresses our feeling of gratitude with respect to these heroes. This initiative from an organization dedicated to a highly meritorious mission raises palpable emotions on which there is no need to dwell. In this place we find the very best that Canada has to offer.
“We recognize the bravery, valour and devotion to duty of those who lie in the National Field of Honour, but we should also recognize and admire the devotion of the people who carry out the work of the Last Post Fund. That work is nothing less than a moral duty. A duty that the Last Post Fund has been fulfilling for more than a century now.
“I am sure that Arthur Hair who founded the Last Post Fund in 1909 could never have foreseen to what extent his organization would provide useful and meaningful services. In the century that followed, deadly conflicts and peacekeeping missions took place and the LPF has relentlessly pursued its mission with generosity and dignity. Mr. Hair’s actions, which helped create the existing Funeral and Burial Program which assures Veterans receive a dignified funeral and burial, led to a national partnership between the Last Post Fund and Veterans Affairs Canada.
“All of you gathered here surely realize the importance of the LPF mission. Veterans and families of deceased Veterans can easily understand the need to provide a dignified burial for those who have honored our country with such bravery and courage. That is why Veterans Affairs Canada works with the Last Post Fund on several activities and recognizes the vital role this organization plays for our Veterans and their families.
“In 1941, a great Canadian, General Georges P. Vanier, said: ‘The Canadian soldier, sailor or airman has left his country, his home, his family; on the altar of the Homeland, he gave away his own self. For this voluntary sacrifice, he asked no reward but rather, he generously offered the capital of his time, his health and his life. Expressing no hope, expecting no promise, he gave everything.’ These words still sound true 71 years later with the emergence of a new generation of Canadian soldiers called to serve around the world.
“As Canadians, we are forever grateful to those men and women who gave their all. It is up to us—all of us—to make sure that this is indeed so.”
On the morning of 3 June, a second commemoration took place at the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges and Mount-Royal cemeteries, where the first official interments by the Last Post Fund occurred in 1910.
The day before, on Saturday 2 June, a first commemorative ceremony was held at the Old Port of Montreal. Guest of honour, Commodore David Craig, Commander Naval Reserve, threw a wreath in the St. Lawrence River in remembrance of deceased Veterans from the Canadian and Allied Naval Forces and the Merchant Marine.
For over 100 years, the Last Post Fund’s mission has remained unchanged: to ensure, insofar as possible, that no Veteran will be deprived of a dignified funeral and burial for lack of financial resources. Since its inception in Montreal in 1909, the Last Post Fund has provided financial benefits to nearly 150,000 Veterans in need and their families.
17 April 2012 -- Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has instructed the Last Post Fund (LPF) to reduce its administrative budget by one million dollars. Consequently, members of the LPF Governing Council met in February to address the issue and discuss necessary actions to meet these reduction requirements.
Difficult decisions had to be taken. The LPF, having substantially reduced its expenditures in previous years, had limited available options to achieve the latest cutbacks. Two options were identified: to downsize the Last Post Fund staff, starting in September 2012, and to close a number of offices.
As a result of this reorganization process, 13 employees will have their employment terminated and four offices will be closed: New Brunswick-Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland-Labrador, Manitoba-Saskatchewan and Alberta. The LPF personnel will then be composed of 17 employees.
In order to ensure an effective delivery of the VAC Funeral and Burial Program, the LPF will implement a National Service Centre which will be operated by counsellors located in remaining offices across Canada. This will allow the organization to maintain a regional presence in four (4) locations:
• Surrey – British Columbia;
• Toronto – Ontario;
• Montreal – Quebec;
• Halifax – Nova Scotia.
The LPF National Service Centre will be supported by a global phone system which will enable a first-time caller to speak to the first available counsellor across the country. The latter will then be responsible for processing the
application to the end.
These measures, effective during fiscal year 2012-2013, were adopted to ensure that the delivery of the Funeral and Burial Program for our Veterans remains at its present level of quality.
Three Recent Cases
17 April 2012 -- It is hard to believe that in this day and age, there are Canadian Forces’ Veterans who, at the time of death, do not have the financial means to receive a dignified funeral. Since they do not meet the eligibility criteria of the Canadian Government Funeral and Burial Program, the Last Post Fund has had to use donation funds to cater to their family’s needs. Since the beginning of 2012, three Veterans have benefited from the Last Post Fund’s donated funds.
In Nova Scotia, a 62-year-old modern-day Veteran who passed away in January left his widow with no money to pay for his funeral and burial services. The widow had a huge credit card debt and very little monthly income to support herself and her daughter born with Down syndrome. The distraught woman was quickly heading for welfare assistance, an avenue she wished to avoid. To relieve her anxiety, the Nova Scotia Office with help from the National Office of the Last Post Fund helped clear her outstanding debt to the funeral home. She was immensely grateful for the financial support she received.
Two other cases can be found in Alberta. Early in February, an impoverished modern-day Veteran died without being eligible for benefits under the Funeral and Burial Program. His father called upon the Last Post Fund for help in getting a military marker and to have his son's remains sent to a funeral home in Charlottetown. The Last Post Fund approved the instalment of a marker and provided a financial support for the funeral and burial of the Veteran in need. A second case, also in February, saw a modern-day Veteran end up at the Calgary morgue. The divorced man was homeless and living on the street. Therefore, the Last Post Fund in Alberta entered into a contract with a Calgary funeral home that has cremated the remains of the Veteran before sending them to his brother in New Brunswick.
For more than 14 years the Last Post Fund has been advocating to the Canadian Government that modern-day Veterans be included, on the same basis as traditional Veterans, in the Canadian Government's Funeral and Burial Program. This advocacy has been supported by all Veterans groups in Canada but with no results. It should be noted that the Last Post Fund has been looking after the funeral and burial expenses of Veterans who are financially challenged at the time of death since 1909.
15 December 2011 -- As he grew up close to a Coast Guard base in Prescott (ON), Marc Bourdon was always very patriotic. He now lives near the Trenton Air Base and knows a lot of local Veterans. This young sculptor actually has a maple leaf tattooed over his heart! He used to work for the Campbell Monument company in Belleville where he helped produce over 1,500 Last Post Fund military markers for Veterans’ graves, as part of the Funeral and Burial Program. He later “jumped back into stone sculpting and glass art.”
Recently, Marc designed a Soldier Memorial on an artist trail at the Small Pond Arts Centre in Picton. In this 87-acre location completely surrounded by nature, artists can focus on their own projects or participate in collaborative artistic pursuits, free from the pressures of daily life.
“I chose to carry the stone into the woods by myself,” he explains. “It was safer if I did it alone but I also wanted it to be ‘all me’. It was both physically and emotionally exhausting. During the installation I got a large bug bite and scratched it on a branch walking through the woods. The bite became infected and I had to get a chunk of my leg removed (about half the size of a marble). I consider the scar to be my badge of honour for installing the memorial! I also designed the memorial so it could be hugged. I want it to be hugged at least 1,500 times and to let me know, I have made it out of limestone so the ‘hugger’ can leave a scratch in the stone. I am also using the memorial as a tool to teach my daughter the sacrifices that are made for our freedom.”
He now has to check on his sculpture once in a while, says Marc, because birds like to hang around it. “At first it upset me, but now I see the birds as ‘guardians of the Soldier Memorial’. I see them as a ‘symbol of freedom’. Were it not for our fallen soldiers, I would not be able to soar up to unimaginable heights in the world's greatest country.”
Marc Bourdon defines himself as an ‘idea generator and doer’ in that he is constantly creating. “I don’t just say I want to create a Soldier Memorial, I actually do it.” In 2008, he was the youngest artist to receive the Quinte Arts Council Recognition Award (average age is 55). “I will not wait until retirement to do all the things I want to do,” he concludes.
|16 November 2011 -- Canadians across the country have shown in many ways how they remember and honour our Veterans. On November 4, on behalf of the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, Senator Pierre Claude Nolin remembered them during a candlelight ceremony at the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, Québec.|
Veterans, members of the military community and residents of Montréal’s West Island came together to honour those buried at the National Field of Honour.
“Generations of Canadians have sacrificed a great deal so we may live in peace. Battles and place names such as Vimy Ridge, Dieppe, Gapyong, Sudan, Bosnia and Afghanistan are now embedded in our collective memories,” said Senator Nolin. “Our Government is dedicated to providing our Veterans with the support and care they need and so richly deserve.”
The candlelight ceremony, which officially launched the 2011 Veterans’ Week, was organized by the Last Post Fund, in partnership with Veterans Affairs Canada.
15 September 2011 -- Rear Admiral (Ret’d) Barry Keeler, Last Post Fund Honorary Treasurer and President of the LPF for Nova Scotia, was among 12 citizens from that province to be honoured for their commitment and dedication to Veterans. Earlier this week, they were presented with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation during a ceremony in Halifax.
"These twelve individuals are making a real and lasting difference with their service and dedication to our nation's truest heroes," said Minister Steven Blaney.
"On behalf of all Canadians, I am proud to be able to acknowledge their extraordinary efforts in helping to provide the care and recognition our Veterans and their families deserve. Today we recognize their hard work and honour them."
The Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation is presented to individuals who have contributed to the care and well-being of Veterans and to the remembrance of their contributions, sacrifices and achievements. The Commendaton includes a bar, which can be worn below official decorations on a Veteran's blazer, as well as a lapel pin for civilian wear and a certificate.
For a biography of RAdm Keeler, click here.
Photo: Nancy Rowe
16 August 2011 -- The Last Post Fund National President, LCol Evelyn Kelly, was among the 19 citizens from Ontario who were decorated with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation on July 27. This honour bestowed upon these individuals by the Honourable Steven Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, recognized their “exemplary contribution to the care and well-being of Veterans and their remembrance of the sacrifices and achievements of our Veterans.”
“After serving, many of Canada’s Veterans have continued to provide outstanding service to their country, their communities and their fellow Veterans,” said Minister Blaney. “They have truly been nation builders and have earned our undying respect and gratitude. It is equally gratifying to see other Canadians volunteer their time and efforts to give back to our Veterans.”
The Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation includes a bar, as well as a lapel pin for civilian wear and a certificate.
Click here for a full biography of LCol Evelyn Kelly.
On Sunday 5 June was held the 80th commemorative ceremony of the Last Post Fund National Field of Honour in Pointe-Claire, QC where a local group of Scouts had planted a small Canadian flags on each and every gravestone. Since its consecration in September 1910, this unique military cemetery has been the scene of an annual tribute to the more than 20,000 Canadian and Allied Veterans, and their close ones, who are buried at the Field of Honour. They originate not only from all Canadian provinces but also from 41 countries across the globe.
The event was attended by over 2,000 who came to pay their respects to departed comrades and parents or simply to watch a very moving ceremony.
After the Sentry took place near the Cross of Sacrifice on the Currie Circle–named after Sir General Arthur Currie–,in came the Military Band, the Royal Canadian Legion’s Flag Party and the Honour Guard. A piper then escorted the Last Post Fund Guest of Honour, Brigadier-General Michael Hood, and the LPF National President, LCol (Ret’d) Evelyn Kelly to the podium. BGen Hood is Director General, Air Force Development, Canadian Forces. He proceeded to review the Honour Guard, the Flag Party and the Band, before delivering a thoughtful address of which the following are a few excerpts.
“Death does not discriminate between Generals and Privates, between men and women, or between those with means and those who may be penniless. And so, they lie here side by side–magnificently equal in death.
“Canada is not known as a country that wears its patriotism on its sleeve… but we are indeed getting better at recognizing and celebrating the sacrifice that our country’s sons and daughters made on behalf of us all. Perhaps we also need to better recognize those whose lives today bear the scars as a lasting memory of that sacrifice and commitment.
“Every marker represents a story… some told but many untold. They were young men and women who stood up for the values we cherish. Freedom. Democracy. The Rule of Law. They were ordinary people who performed extraordinary deeds when their country called their name.
“And as we think back to all those Canadian men and women who have sacrificed so much–and continue to sacrifice to this very day–we turn to honour those who lie in this sacred field. The Gate of Remembrance, the Memorial Chapel, the Cross of Sacrifice and the rows of markers and flags remind us of the essence of this site.
“Those buried here have demonstrated their commitment to Canada in a way that few of us ever will. To honour and protect in death seems but a small return to those who have done so much to protect our country and to bring honour to it in life.”
At the close of BGen Hood’s address were heard traditional military airs such as Lament, Last Post and Réveille played in turn by the bugler and the piper, as well as Canada’s national anthem played by the Military Band. The ceremony concluded with the laying of more than 30 wreaths by different groups, Legion branches and personalities. Later on, BGen Hood and LCol Kelly met with Veterans from the Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital.
For over 100 years, the Last Post Fund’s mission has remained unchanged: to ensure, insofar as possible, that no Veteran will be deprived of a dignified funeral and burial for lack of financial resources. Since its inception in Montreal in 1909, the Last Post Fund has provided financial benefits to nearly 150,000 Veterans in need and their families.
Small Canadian flags planted by local group of Scouts adorn each military marker.
The Sentry Party.
The Military Band.
The Honour Guard.
Escorted by the piper: BGen Michael Hood and LPF National President, LCol Evelyn Kelly.
Reviewing the Band.
Reviewing the Honour Guard.
The Flag Party.
The Last Post played by the bugler.
|The bugler playing Lament.||
BGen Michael Hood laying a wreath.
Arthur ‘Chip’ Hair III, grandson of LPF founder Arthur Hair, laying a wreath.
Display of wreaths.
LCol Evelyn Kelly, LPF National President, meeting Veterans from the Ste. Anne-de-Bellevue Hospital.
14 June 2011 -- The Last Post Fund now has its very own Facebook page. This new communication tool aims to inform you on our activities and programs. You will also find photos of our commemorative ceremonies as well as vintage photos on the development of our organization.
Come and visit us by simply clicking on this Facebook logo.
If you like our Page, please let us know by clicking on the “Like” button at the top.
Have a great visit!
As of 7 June 2011, the Last Post Fund Governing Council members are: First row, left to right, LCol Kenneth Garbutt (Vice-President West); LGen Lou Cuppens (Past National President); LCol Evelyn Kelly (National President); LCol Daniel O’Connor (Vice-President East); and RAdm Barry Keeler (Honorary Treasurer). Second row, Jean-Pierre Goyer (Executive Director – non member); Derek Sullivan (Veterans Affairs Canada); A/Comm Gerald Leahy, (President, Newfoundland & Labrador); MGen Edward Fitch (President, British Colombia); LCol Yves Martin (Vice-President, Last Post Fund National Field of Honour); LCdr David Yeo (President, New Brunswick & PEI); and Capt Gordon Criggar (President, Manitoba & Saskatchewan). Third row, BGen William Buckham standing for Col William Fletcher (President, Alberta), Cmdre Jean-Claude Michaud (President, Québec); LCol Michel Crowe (Last Post Fund Legal Advisor); and LCol Raymond Mikkola (President, Ontario).
4 May 2011 – Every year in early June, the Last Post Fund organizes commemorative ceremonies to pay tribute to Canadian and Allied Veterans—marine, aviation and army—that have so valiantly defended the values dear to our country.
You are cordially invited to this very moving ceremony.
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
(Excerpt from the poem For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943) recited worldwide at commemorative services)
At the National Field of Honour, starting at 2 :30 p.m.
3 May 2011 -- Since 1909, the Last Post Fund has been dedicated to ensuring that no Veteran is denied a dignified funeral and burial for lack of funds. What is meant by a “dignified” funeral and burial? It may take on different meanings in different cases. It could mean assisting a family when they are going through an extremely difficult time by offering compassion and advice or liaising with funeral homes and cemeteries to make sure that everything is arranged properly. In 2011, in Toronto, the Last Post Fund went even further…
We received a phone call from the morgue asking us to verify if a gentleman would be eligible under the Veterans Affairs Canada Funeral & Burial Program, a Program delivered by the Last Post Fund. He had no family in the area and essentially had no one to make his final arrangements. Time was of the essence and we started the process to verify military service. We were able to determine that he served during WW2 and step in to help.
We spoke with the land-lady from his small rooming house where he had been living. She said that Bill was a nice man who had mostly kept to himself. She had heard mention of a daughter at one point but had no information on how she could be reached. He had a couple of buddies from the local pub but they did not know his daughter’s contact information either.
The Last Post Fund contacted Rosar-Morrision Funeral Home & Chapel. Situated in an eclectic downtown neighbourhood in Toronto, it is nestled amongst newly built condominiums, mansions from the turn of the century, as well as a high number of rooming houses. They have assisted families from all walks of life and are particularly proud to provide services for Canadian Veterans.
We made funeral arrangements for Bill and worked with a local cemetery to ensure he had a proper resting place in their military section. Staff from the funeral home traveled to the cemetery where they met with Bill’s buddies who had come to the cemetery to give Bill a good send-off. The funeral director spoke of Bill’s service to his country before he was laid to rest in peace with his comrades.
Normally a family handles the personal belongings of a Veteran but the funeral home called our office to let us know that Bill’s wallet was still there to be picked up. We discussed that we should go get it as perhaps it had information we could use to find out more about him.
Kept in his wallet behind his social insurance card and other identification was the corner ripped off an envelope that had the name of a lady whose surname matched his own. It appeared that he had carried this little piece of paper with him for years-could this be the name of his daughter of whom he spoke?
Darrell Marsh, the Last Post Fund Counsellor who assisted with his service, researched the name and address on the internet but there were no active listings or telephone numbers available. Then, using the street view option on “Google Earth” he found the building and noticed it was for an apartment over a tattoo parlour in New Brunswick.
He decided to call the shop from the sign in the window and see if he could get more information. The man who answered the phone said he had only been there a couple of years so he did not have information on the daughter but could give us the name and number for the owner of the property. On the second phone call we had more luck, this gentleman knew the Veteran personally; he was Bill’s cousin. He and the Veteran’s daughter had been searching for him in Ontario over the last few years.
Shortly afterwards we received a phone call from Bill’s daughter, she was crying and very emotional. We let her know about her father’s funeral and burial in a Veterans’ section and that we would be placing a grave marker to in honour of his service to Canada. It meant so much to her to know that her father had carried her information in his wallet and that he had had a nice service and would be commemorated properly. We sent her dad’s wallet to her so she could have the last of his personal possessions he had left behind.
Our founder, Arthur Hair, said that “to honour and protect in death seems but a small return to those who have protected their country in life.” We are proud to go the “extra mile” when necessary to continue the journey started by Arthur Hair so many years ago. While it may be difficult to define what comprises a “dignified” funeral and burial, the Last Post Fund has been providing this service for over 100 years. -- Jaime MacKinnon, LPF Ontario Regional Manager
|2 May 2011 – Most who served in Canada’s Military Forces, including the Reserve Forces, the Merchant Navy and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, are aware of the many places across the country where Generals now lie with Privates, those with Decorations beside others without battle acclaim and wealthy men and women with the penniless. These are the Fields of Honour and Columbariums operated by the Last Post Fund to provide a final resting place for our Veterans to be with their comrades.|
Many however are not aware that these unique and beautiful resting places also allow the option to include an additional family member when making final arrangements, and that niches can be purchased by currently serving members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.
The Last Post Fund in Nova Scotia owns and operates the Veterans’ Columbarium located at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax. It offers the following advantages to those who may now contemplate to make arrangements for future peace of mind:
For more information, contact the LPF Nova Scotia Office at 1 800 565-4777.
22 December – Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret’d) Evelyn Kelly, National President of the Last Post Fund, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Jean-Pierre Goyer as Executive Director of the LPF, beginning on 4 January 2011.
The greatest part of Mr. Goyer’s long career has been committed to the service of the veterans community, namely at Veterans Affairs Canada where he worked from 1971 to 2009, acquiring and applying extensive management skills in the delivery of programs and services.
In 2007 and 2008, Mr. Goyer acted as Associate Regional Director at Veterans Affairs Canada’s Québec Regional Office. Based in Montreal, he oversaw the management of health care issues, disability programs and income support for the benefit of eligible civilians, members of the Canadian Forces and the RCMP, and their families. Working closely with the Regional Director General, he helped develop and establish regional priorities as well as the operational strategic planning. He also directed and managed the human, financial and material resources of the units under his authority.
Earlier on, from 1993 to 2007, Mr. Goyer was Québec’s Regional Director of Client Services, providing leadership, guidance, functional and operational support to the staff responsible for the delivery of Veterans Affairs’ programs and services.
In 2004, Jean-Pierre Goyer received a Leadership Award from Veterans Affairs Canada. Also, he and his team were granted an Award of Excellence for the successful implementation of the New Veterans Charter launched in 2006.
The Montreal-born new Executive Director of the Last Post Fund is fully bilingual, having always worked in both official languages. He is married to Johanne Dubé since 1976 and they have two children, Stéphanie and Pierre-André.