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As President of the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Association for the last six years I have had the privilege and honour of serving all of you. I sincerely thank you for placing your confidence in electing me and for the support that I have received throughout my terms of office.
Over the last 6 years, it has been my pleasure to work with many talented and dedicated people on the Executive and the Regional Directors that form our Board of Directors.
It takes my breath away to see all the accomplishments that have occurred over the decade of our existence and I have tried to capture these accomplishments in my reports in the national newsletter and on the website but they are so important that it bears repeating.
Nationally we have six regions that cover Canada from coast to coast to assist our veterans and widows and to promote the Battle of Hong Kong story. We hold monthly Board of Director meetings online, biannual conventions and most regions meet on a regular basis either online or in person.
We have regular communication with our members through the WASURERU-NAI (National newsletter), the regions newsletters and our website (www.hkvca.ca). Some regions are more active than others but all of them hold gatherings annually where they pay tribute to the Hong Kong veterans and the widows of Hong Kong Veterans. The Regional Directors reports will inform us of the events and activities with which they are involved.
The National Executive has reviewed the Mission Statement and developed one that reflects the evolvement of the Association. We will be ratifying this document later in the agenda. These reviews should occur often to ensure that we are on track or if changes need to be made to reflect the new direction of the Association and that this is done in a timely manner.
We have been proactive in developing Policies and Procedures to clarify and simplify our Bylaws and Corporate Laws. We hope that these will assist us in governing the Association in a just and impartial manner. The Secretary will review the documents for you and if we have missed anything or if anyone wishes to speak on them in a constructive manner please do so.
Another avenue that has assisted in promoting the Battle of Hong Kong and the Canadian involvement is through education. Our Regions are actively promoting the curricula that have been developed by our members, participating in presentations to educators and students and with displays for the general public at various events.
An off shoot of the education theme was the trip to Hong Kong in 2005 that our members and the students, teachers and family members in the Port Perry district participated in and as a result our Hong Kong veterans have received a wonderful book of memories that Nancy Hamer Stahl compiled of the student’s work. This book contains the stories, poems, etc that the students created on an “adopted” member of “C” Force. The original piece of the work lies in the time capsule outside of Sai Wan Cemetery. Great job Nancy!!
While members of our Association and Veterans Affairs Canada were in Hong Kong with the Port Perry group, plaques marking 3 battlefield sites were re-dedicated. The 3 battlefield sites are Jardine’s Lookout on Mount Butler in honour of Sgt Major John Osborn, VC, and the Winnipeg Grenadiers; Sai Wan Hill Fort, at Lye Yue Mun Headland, in honour of Major Wells Bishop, D.S.O., and the Royal Rifles of Canada; and Lawson’s Bunker, West Brigade Headquarters, Won Nei Chong Gap, in honour of Brigadier John Lawson and West Brigade HQ Staff. We are grateful to the Governments of Canada and Hong Kong to have these plaques to honour our heroic Canadians.
We have been blessed with several talented members that use their skill to promote and support the HKVCA. I have mentioned their names in the newsletter as they have contacted us with their efforts and donations and we appreciate their dedication to the memory of the Canadians who served in Hong Kong. Recent ones are Jeff Forst with his play, “Padre” in memory of his grandfather Padre Uraih Laite, Ron Parker with his book, “Deadly December” from his father’s diary, Michael Palmer and his book, Dark Side of the Sun” about his grandfather, George Thomas Palmer.
Our Charity status has enabled us to solicit funds to aid in our projects as well as benefit the donor and we are truly grateful for the generous members and friends that have used this process. We will be telling you of a new project in which all members may participate.
We have developed member pins and crests as modes of recognition for our members. There is a grave marker that is documented and tracked that is available to affix to a HK vets graves that are buried in North America.
In Winnipeg, the Asper family has been spearheading the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. Our National Executive and MB Region have contacted their committees to have the Battle of Hong Kong included. Until the building is erected there is little activity in this area but we will keep you informed as it happens.
Our membership is a challenge. As we lose our senior members, we also lose the family. How do we build enthusiasm into our membership that would help to improve activity in the regions and in turn create more of an entity in the community? We hope that you will be able to assist us in this. Please take the opportunity to discuss this with one another and pass any suggestions to the Board of Directors.
And we are not done yet! There is still much to do and it would be wonderful to have more people on board to do it. Please, contact your local region or national executive and become involved – “many hands make light work” and bring new ideas and innovation to our Association.
Our next Convention in 2009 – please give this some consideration. Traditionally we go East then West – so our next convention should be in the East.