Ucluelet will gather on Saturday morning to remember the sacrifices of war .
“We’re looking forward to bringing the community together to remember the people that have fought for us,” said the vice-president of Ucluelet’s Army, Navy and Airforce Veteran’s Club Bronwyn Kelleher. “There’s still wars going on and we need to keep that in mind. This is not just the past. This is something that’s in the present.”
The community’s Remembrance Day ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with a parade from Ucluelet Secondary School to the Cenotaph—outside the ANAF Hall at 1708 Peninsula Road.
Bill Morrison will MC the service at the Cenotaph, which will include a wreath laying ceremony. Alex Heminger will play the euphonium and speakers will include Les Doiron of the Ucluelet First Nation and Anne Mack of the Toquaht First Nation.
Immediately following the service, a reception will be held inside the ANAF catered by the Gray Whale Deli, Ucluelet Co-op and Solidarity Snacks.
Ucluelet changed greatly during World War II as the Government of Canada established a seaplane base in the community. WWII also led to the West Coast’s airport
“Ucluelet was a very small fishing village with not a lot of infrastructure before the war happened. The war brought in a lot of people and it brought in a lot of infrastructure,” Kelleher said. “It was something that was here and the past is always part of the present. So, we need to acknowledge that and keep that in our minds.”
One of the buildings built for the war effort was the ANAF Hall, which was originally located at the Seaplane Base and used as a mess hall.
Ucluelet nearly lost the hall in 2014 when it was put up for sale due to declining ANAF membership and activity.
An energetic group of young locals fought to keep the hall intact and was victorious in wrestling it away from the real estate market. The popular venue space has since become a community hub of activity, hosting concerts, comedians, youth nights, craft fairs and everything in between.
Kelleher said the next plan is to launch an early evening winter entertainment series to cater to locals who want to have fun without staying up late.
“We really want to open up the hall to a different demographic in town that hasn’t been accessing it,” she said.
“We put on youth nights. We put on punk rock shows for the 20-something crowd. We want there to be more options for people that want to go out and do stuff, but still go to bed at an early hour.”
She added Legions and ANAF’s are struggling throughout Canada, especially in communities where many work two or more jobs to get by and the ANAF hopes to bring the community out of TV rooms and into a diverse array of entertaining offerings.
“People don’t go out as much. Netflix is killing social activity in the evening. Bars and pubs everywhere aren’t doing as well as they used to. Legions and Army Navy specifically aren’t doing very well at all. It’s just the state we live in. People stay at home and watch TV now,” she said. “Everybody’s got their finger in many pies so we can’t be a one horse show. We have to have many different options so that we are accessible to all different demographics of the community.”
She added local musician Geoff Johnson has stepped up to help bring in a wide cross-section of acts and artists.
“We’re really hoping that with his connections and his diverse musical background, he’ll be able to assist us in bringing in some different things,” she said. “We’re here for the community. We’re a community hall. We’re run by the people for the people and we want to cater to the people. All of the people…There’s a lot of awesome stuff happening on the Island and Ucluelet is getting bigger. If we start now, maybe we’ll be riding the crest of an awesome new wave of events and culture and people coming into Ucluelet.”
The ANAF is always welcoming new members and annual memberships cost $35 with funds going towards Veterans Canada.