Local Legions Say They’re Lost Without Bingo

By Ben Hamill - September 10 2020

Local Legions Say They’re Lost Without Bingo

To thousands of Canadian veterans, Royal Canadian legions are a social and mental health lifeline, and even more so to those living in smaller communities. Legions are where veterans and their families go for everything from a social game of Bingo, to a dance or barbeque event. Even weddings and funerals are made possible by the social and fundraising support generated by legions, says Royal Canadian Legion Dominion President Thomas D. Irvine.

But there’s a world’s worth of weight now resting on Irvine’s shoulders. Due to physical distancing safeguards, most local branches have had no other option but to close their doors for months on end. All of which has now left legions located in Ottawa practically incapable of not only helping themselves, but also those causes they so passionately supported in the past.

Legions are at risk of losing everything, said Irvine, and especially so in smaller Canadian communities.

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The Social Ramifications

And it’s the smaller communities who are most in need of the social stimulation and interaction offered by games such as Bingo. So much so that according to Irvine, Bingo and other social events are more often than not at the very centre of everything that happens in those communities.

 Of the 1,381 legions scattered across Canada, at least 350 need immediate financial assistance in order to even just as much as keep their doors open, says the legions president of the difficult situation the organisation now finds itself in. And since many branches remain closed, there are currently also no Bingo or any other fundraising events taking place – which means that even if legions were to take out loans in order to survive, they have no way of repaying the money lent.

Bingo Is Their Life Support

One of the legion branches hardest hit by the global health crisis is the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 154, which legion is located on British Columbia’s Quadra Island. Though managing to for the moment only just scrape by, treasurer Bill Bradshaw says he fears for the worst if at least Bingo fundraising evenings aren’t able to resume soon.

Bingo nights are one of the Quadra Island legion’s main sources of income due to it being the most successful fundraising activity of them all. And since no Bingo has been played at the legion for the past 3 months, the legion is currently making zero income, said a clearly worried Bradshaw.

Bingo is a social as well as a financial-aid pillar of strength to the legion at Quadra, and without it, the community’s veterans and their families stand to lose everything.

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