Kelowna family wants WWII memorabilia back

KELOWNA–Suzanne St. Germain has a large collection of family war memorabilia, but she doesn’t have her father’s.

Rodolphe St. Germain was an air gunner in the second world war. His medals, flight book and other documents ended up in the hands of a collector. That doesn’t sit well with his daughter.

“This is our family history. This is our legacy,” says St. Germain.

St. Germain believes that her mother left her dad’s memorabilia with the Royal Canadian Legion in Chilliwack for safe keeping.

The Legion’s Poppy Fund Coordinator sent her a letter that reads in part:

“I have been trying to assist you with the return of your father’s WWII medals, flight log and assorted papers. I have not been successful in this.

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As it cannot be determined if any law was broken…I am no longer able to continue.”

The collector who has the items is named Robert Graham, and he lives in the Lower Mainland.

Graham says he started collecting war memorabilia when he realized some pawn shop owners were melting medals for their silver, and he wanted to save as many as he could.

He believes St. Germain’s mother sold the war memorabilia years ago.

“I bought those items fair and square, and I have no intention of parting with them,” says Graham.

“I put them on display at libraries and write the history of the individuals. [As a] matter of fact, I have three groups on display at the Maple Ridge Library right now. It seems to go over quite well with the public and the veterans.”

St. Germain says her father suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, and it made him difficult to live with.

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She says she’s just beginning to understand the condition, and thinks having his war memorabilia back could help her heal.

“We need that flight log,” she says. “We need it because we want to understand what dad went through.”

In 2008, Bill C-208 was introduced in Ottawa that would have made the buying and selling of war memorabilia illegal, but it never passed.

The St. Germain family has started a petition on to have that legislation re-introduced in parliament.

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