The Royal Canadian Legion‘s poppy campaign officially kicked off in Saskatoon.
Mayor Charlie Clark was pinned with the first poppy at a ceremony at Market Mall on Friday afternoon.
200,000 poppies will be distributed in Saskatoon until Remembrance Day and are available at various locations around the city.
John Peters is a former serviceman and the current chairman of the Poppy Trustees. He says helping veterans is always a role he considers an honour, not only because of their service abroad, but right here in Saskatoon.
“When I came back to Saskatoon and joined the legion, a lot of the fellas that were there were guys that when I was growing up, coached minor ball, coached hockey, boys clubs at the church I went to,” Peters said.
“So these guys got back from the war, started the legion and started helping the youth.”
Money raised in this year’s campaign will go toward cadets, veterans care initiatives like rent and groceries, and equipment like the recent repairs to broken tubs at the Veterans Village.
“The Veterans Village, we always make sure we’re doing something there,” Peters said. “The tub that was replaced, it was old, so we said ‘let’s get a new one, one that’s more modern, and one that’s easier for staff and the veterans to get in and out of the tub.”
Funds are also directed toward healthcare, including treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
“After the Second World War and the First, nobody knew what it was and now that we know what it is,” Peters said.
“It’s something that we have to try to combat.”
Some of the money will also go to helping homeless veterans.
This year is an important year for veterans; 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday, and it also marks the 100-year anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge.
2017 also marks the 100th anniversary of the Tuberculosis Veterans Association, which helps fund research at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization in Saskatoon.