Trail princess Emily Dawson kicked off the Legion’s annual poppy fundraiser by pinning the first poppy on her grandfather Cliff Dawson at the Cenotaph last week. Poppy pins will be distributed throughout Greater Trail Friday and Saturday.

Trail princess Emily Dawson kicked off the Legion’s annual poppy fundraiser by pinning the first poppy on her grandfather Cliff Dawson at the Cenotaph last week. Poppy pins will be distributed throughout Greater Trail Friday and Saturday.

Poppy campaign begins this week

Donations to the annual poppy campaign are the Legion’s major fundraiser, with a majority of the proceeds staying in Greater Trail.

Emily Dawson was bestowed the honour of pinning the first poppy of the local Royal Canadian Legion’s 2013 campaign on her hero, WWII veteran Cliff Dawson, the Trail princess’s grandfather.

“This year, my grandpa’s experiences are especially poignant to me,” said Dawson. “Because he decided to enlist at the age of 17 and I turned that age this summer.

“I don’t know if that is something I would have the courage to do. It reminds me just how lucky I am today.”

The elder Dawson is a spry 88-year-old with gracious spirit and a sense of humour that belies his history as a prisoner of war at the tender age of 19.

Dawson was sent overseas in the fall of 1944, landing by boat in Belgium and from there, ensconced in battle on the Leopold Canal in the northern region of the country.

In October of that year, Dawson’s entire platoon, led by a young Trail man raised in the Gulch, Sergeant Armando Gri, was captured by the Germans and imprisoned in a stalag under harrowing conditions very few could endure.

The platoon was taken via train boxcars to the camp, and although Gri and a handful of prisoners escaped by cutting an opening in the side of the boxcar, Dawson remained behind.

During this time, it was mid-winter, and the only reprieve the young soldiers had from the unrelenting cold was a thin blanket and wooden bunk with straw.

Lice was rampant and food was scarce, leading to emaciation, dysentery and frost bite.

After six months of starvation and forced labour in the German stalag, Dawson was released on April 16, 1945 and transferred to a Canadian hospital in London.

“The loss in weight was so dramatic that while he was in the hospital his own brother didn’t’ recognize him,” said Emily. “My siblings and I have always been very close, so the idea of being so ill that they wouldn’t recognize me is something I can’t fathom.”

The first poppy pinning starts the annual fundraising campaign with veterans, cadets and volunteers distributing the scarlet pins Friday and Saturday in downtown Trail, Walmart, Canadian Tire, Waneta Mall and Main Street in Fruitvale.

Donations to the annual poppy campaign are the Legion’s major fundraiser, with a majority of the proceeds staying in Greater Trail.

Last year, the Trail branch raised more than $20,000 that in part, was dispersed locally into seven bursaries to grandchildren of veterans and a donation made to the Trail air cadet program.

“The money paves the way for activities that further help in the development of making our cadets grow into more confident adults,” said Jim Hossack, air cadet commander. “Some of these areas are an effective speaking program, first aid, range, and scuba diving,” said Hossack, adding, “and many more activities that the DND (Department of National Defence) does not fully financially support.”

Hossack’s son Cameron was a bursary recipient, and said the funds will help his son succeed in a carpentry program.

“The money received helped provide a post secondary education and is an incentive to stay on course because of the backing and vote of confidence he received from the people in his community,” added Hossack, on behalf of Cameron, currently living in Calgary.

Poppy donations were also used to provide comfort to veterans and seniors in local care facilities and provided emergency services to three local veterans.

In addition, the Legion donated proceeds to a the veterans transition program, the commonwealth ex-servicemen league, a veteran’s re-certification program, and to assist with the purchase of an exoskeleton machine for a veteran severely injured in Afghanistan.

“For me, pinning the first poppy is an honour,” said the Trail princess. “I believe the act of remembering is a small price to pay in comparison to what others have given.”

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

Trees blown over by a windstorm in forest owned by Anderson Creek Timber. Photo: Anderson Creek Timber
Timber company logging near Nelson raises local concerns

Anderson Creek Timber owns 600 hectares of forest adjacent to the city

Keith Smyth, Kootenay Savings director at-large joins children from the Kids’ Care Centre at St. Michael’s Catholic School. Photo: Submitted
Kootenay Savings continues credit union’s tradition of giving

Funding totalling $48,250, is going to a wide array of Kootenay initiatives

From left: Karl Luedtke (West Arm Outdoors Club), Dale Williams (BCWF), Molly Teather (FLNORD), Gord Grunerud (West Arm Outdoors Club), Eugene Volokhov (Grand Prize Winner), Casey McKinnon and Lex Jones (Jones Boys Boats). Photo: Tammy White, Whitelight Photography
Balfour man lands big prize from angler incentive program

Eugene Volokhov of Balfour is now the proud owner of a sleek 18-foot Kingfisher boat

“I want to see the difference in the world, embrace it, celebrate it … ” Photo: David Cantelli/Unsplash
A new way to say ‘Hello’

“Inclusion, you see, is NOT about making us all the same.”

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

One Reconciliation Pole and two Welcome Figures were unveiled during a ceremony in honour of truth and reconciliation on National Peoples Indigenous Day at the Vancouver School District in Vancouver, B.C., on Friday, June 21, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Horgan marks Indigenous Peoples Day by urging recognition of systemic racism

National Indigenous Peoples Day has been marked in Canada since 1996

A man makes his way past signage to a mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canadians encouraged to see mRNA shots as interchangeable as more 2nd doses open up

Doctos urge people not to hesitate if offered Moderna after getting Pfizer for their first shot

Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance sits in the front row during a news conference in Ottawa on June 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Defence committee rises without report on Vance allegations

Committee had been investigating the government’s handling of complaints against former defence chief

The Coquihalla Lakes washroom is getting upgrades. (Submitted)
Coquihalla to get upgrades to aging washrooms

The Ministry of Transportation is providing $1 million in funding to upgrade 3 rest areas

The Sacred Hearts church on PIB land burned Monday morning. (Theresa May Jack/Facebook)
Two churches on First Nation land in South Okanagan burn to the ground

Sacred Hearts church on Penticton Indian Band land was reduced to rubble

Tl’etinqox-lead ceremony at the site of the former St. Joseph’s Mission in Williams Lake, B.C., June 18, 2021. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
‘We are all one people’: Honouring residential school victims and survivors

Love, support and curiousity: Canadians urged to learn about residential schools and their impact

Indigenous rights and climate activists gathered outside Liberty Mutual’s office in Vancouver to pressure the insurance giant to stop covering Trans Mountain. (Photo by Andrew Larigakis)
Activists work to ensure Trans Mountain won’t get insurance

Global campaign urging insurance providers to stay away from Canadian pipeline project

Most Read