The legion’s poppy sales are made up from what the legion receives from selling items such as poppies, pins, decorations, and wreaths. Pictured is Poppy Chair of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 43 in Port Hawkesbury, Rod Corbett.

By: Adam McNamara

PORT HAWKESBURY: The Royal Canadian Legion in Port Hawkesbury, Branch 43, will be donating part of their proceeds from this year’s poppy fund to Real Canadian Recreation.

Real Canadian Recreation, an initiative located in Pictou County, is a recreation facility geared toward helping veterans and serving members of the armed forces, diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

It is owned and operated by former Isle Madame resident Tyson Bowen.

The legion’s donation this year will mark the second year Branch 43 has supported the initiative.

Rod Corbett, Poppy Chair of the Royal Canadian Legion in Port Hawkesbury, says the legion wants to help Bowen finish the work at his facility as much as they can.

He says Bowen first came to Branch 43 in Port Hawkesbury, about a year and a half ago to give a presentation about what his plans were at the facility.

“We were impressed with what he showed us, and we wanted to do something to help him,” said Corbett.

He says they have plans to donate part of the poppy fund to Real Canadian Action not only this year, but next year as well.

“We’re taking a good chunk of our poppy fund money and helping him out.”

“We did last year, and we did this year as well, and we will next year. That’s what we want to do,” said Corbett.

Contributed photo
Pictured making the donation to Real Canadian Recreation from the Legion Branch 43 Poppy Fund were (from the left): Zone Commander John MacLeod Langley, secretary Anna Marie Langley, Sgt. Tyson Bowen, president Gary Burns, Poppy Fund chair Rod Corbett, and Branch 43 vice-president Marguerite Howlett.

Bowen who is thankful for the donation, says because of the funding from Port Hawkesbury he is able to finish some remaining work before the winter.

“With it we are now able to get our basement for our main facility and put up walls around the reminder of the facility.”

“It’s almost a three thousand square foot area,” said Bowen.

Corbett says the Port Hawkesbury Legion would like to see other legions in Nova Scotia also donate to Bowen’s facility and program.

“Vets are basically doing their job for their country. They do their best and then something happens that they are injured, either physically mentally or emotionally. They’re still our responsibility.”

Speaking about Bowen’s initiative, Corbett adds, “This is something that is physically going to happen and we want to help.”

The branch in Port Hawkesbury also wants to get the word out about the work Real Canadian Recreation is doing.

Corbett says Bowen has 400 acres of property he is shaping into a recreation area for veterans, and even has an arrangement with the military to have a diving tank at the facility.

“The military wants it for training. It’s giving them a link to know that hey, I did this here and now I know about this place and what’s going on.”

Bowen, who joined the forces in his Grade 12 year in 2005, deployed for his first tour in Afghanistan in 2007, and his second tour in 2010.

He said he thought of this initiative on his way out of the forces.

Bowen wants the recreation area to be catered toward all members of the Canadian Armed Forces, serving or retired, young or old.

“We’ll hopefully be able to heal ourselves and find calm while we’re here at the park and just have all kinds of different outdoor activities,” he said.

Bowen stressed on the importance of being able to include family in the treatment process for veterans and serving members, especially at his facility.

“We needed to create a safe space where we could be ourselves but also have our family and peers around for support, so we can heal and become whole again.”

Corbett says there are an estimated 40,000 Canadian troops who served in Afghanistan. He says 40,000 sounds like a big number but when you spread it across the country, it’s hard to find them.

“Most of them have some form of trauma and we want to find those people and help them in some way,” said Corbett.

Corbett says although he thinks they are out there, they don’t get many veterans with PTSD coming to the legion looking for help or resources.

He encourages any veterans in the area with PTSD to contact the legion for resources.