Category Archives: Culture

Co-operatives continuing to contribute to communities

For over a hundred years, co-operatives have been part of the fabric of Saskatchewan communities.

In Senlac, Saskatchewan, the first grain elevator was built in 1911 – a Saskatchewan Co-operative Elevator Company venture. The farmer-owned SCEC was founded in 1911 and 40 elevators were built in the first year. The elevator at Rockhaven, with many Swarthmore area farmers among its members, was one of another 93 SCEC elevators built the following year.

In Unity, SK, the Producers’ Creamery was established in 1914. Although it was eventually sold to private interests, it started as a farmer owned co-operative.

Snow plow clubs in rural areas operated on a co-operative basis for many years, before rural municipalities took over the job of keeping country roads passable in winter.

co-op red sheildEarlier this year, the Luseland location of Delta Co-op held 100th year anniversary celebrations. Originally the Grass Lake Grain Growers Association Limited, the local co-operative was formed in 1915. In later years, the organization was renamed the Luseland Co-operative Association Ltd, and today is part of Delta Co-op. Delta Co-op itself celebrated its 85th anniversary in 2014.

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan gives some early history. “Farmers … began to use co-operatives to supply themselves with goods and to help them take control of handling and marketing their produce.” The first co-operative named by the encyclopedia is the Grain Growers’ Grain Company, formed in 1906. The second was the elevator co-op.

The encyclopedia goes on to say, “the hardships of the 1930s strengthened the co-op movement, and co-operative methods were used to meet a wide variety of needs, including marketing, banking, insurance, the refining of oil, and provision of farm implements.”

“Banking by co-operative methods,” of course, are credit unions. Established in 1940, the Macklin Credit Union will celebrate its 75th anniversary later this fall. Unity Credit Union will follow suit with its own 75th anniversary celebrations in 2016. What is now Credit Union Central, in 1941 was the Saskatchewan Co-operative Credit Society – English Canada’s first credit union system.

cu logo

The longevity and continuing success of local co-ops and credit unions are a testament to the power of business by co-operation. In Saskatchewan, approximately 490,000 people – almost half the population – are members of 51 different credit unions. In Saskatchewan, 1,280 co-operatives continue to operate, employing some 15,000 people.

Those involved on boards and in management will say the success comes from the enterprises being owned and controlled locally by members, not by lone CEOs or far-off shareholders. Members are accountable to each other for decisions made, and those decisions are made democratically with everyone having a voice. Profits are returned to members via equity cheques and cash-back dividends.

Because members, directors and staff live and work in the communities served by their co-ops and credit unions, monetary and volunteer hour donations are made to other community organizations and events.

Since 1982, C-op Week has been proclaimed across Canada every October. Members of co-operatives and credit unions will celebrate Co-op Week Oct. 11 to 17 this year.

International Credit Union Day has been celebrated even longer, first being recognized in 1948. This year, Credit Union Day is Oct. 15.

“Co-op Week is a time to reflect on the contributions the co-operative sector has made to the lives of Canadians and celebrate the impact that co-operatives have in our communities,” says the Saskatchewan Co-operatives Association’s website. The Canadian site says it this way: “Co-op Week is the opportunity for Canadian co-operative and credit union members to celebrate the fact that they have collectively helped to build this country. Co-op Week is recognition of their continuing contributions at home and abroad.”

co-op welcome

Stop in at your local co-op or credit union next week to congratulate them and see what special activities they have going on as part of their Co-op Week celebrations.

Next week’s paper

October is here, and next week will be Fire Prevention Week. Check out the tips from and photos of our local volunteer firefighters in the October 5th issue of the Unity Wilkie Press-Herald. You’ll also be able to:

  • read profiles of four of the federal election candidates running in our riding;
  • find out the results of the annual Fall Fair and Trade Show;
  • find out a little about co-operatives as Delta Co-op and Unity Credit Union will soon be celebrating Co-op Week; and
  • learn about a fun new initiative for kids at Unity Public School.

The phone on the table shows the size of this potato, on display at the Unity Agricultural Society’s annual Fall Fair and Trade Show, Sept. 25 and 26:

Unity Fall Fair

A first prize Jack-o-Lantern, made by nine-year-old Shawn Dyck:

trade jack-o-lantern

Nina Burnell’s award winning quilt:

trade quilt

Close-up detail on a first-place quilt made by Edna Jeffrey of Marsden:

trade quilt cu

Habs coming to town this fall

The website of the Montreal Canadiens says:

Hockey game with Canadiens Alumni
For more than 40 years, Canadiens Alumni have been traveling throughout Quebec and the rest of Canada to make your hockey dreams come true.

Pit your local team against the Canadiens Alumni as a fundraiser for your organism or organisation.

Each year, the Canadiens Alumni help raise over $1.5 million for grass-root and community causes. 

As reported by Sherri Solomko in the July 20th, 2015, Unity Wilkie Press-Herald, the Montreal Canadien alumni team is coming to UNITY, SK.

They will be here November 27 to play a team from town. Who will be representing Unity is yet to be determined – the opposition team will be paint for the privilege to play against the Habs alumni. Details are being hammered out on how the selection process will work and organizers promise to let people know as soon as the details are available.

Delta Co-op and the Unity Credit Union have already come on board as major sponsors for the local event. Net proceeds are earmarked for the food bank, the Unity Community Resource Centre and at least one other organization yet to be determined.

The Canadien alumni team selected three locations in Saskatchewan to take their game to, Unity, La Ronge and Yorkton.

The Habs’ roster includes recently retired players as well as fan favourites from the past.

There is also a unique “thrill of a lifetime” opportunity for two Habs fans as they can pay to have the privilege to actually play with the Canadiens, even receiving their own jersey with their name on the back and having the opportunity at intermission to have that jersey signed.

Watch for details around town and in this paper regarding updates on yet another exciting hockey event coming to Unity.

Vern Burns – Saskatchewan Legionnaire of the Year

(By George Ward)

At a Legion rally in Lloydminster May 6, Vernon Burns of Unity SK was presented with Saskatchewan’s Legion Member of the Year Award, in recognition of his years of creative, energetic participation with the Royal Canadian Legion, Unity Branch No. 90.

Vernon Burns of Unity Saskatchewan

After serving briefly in the militia — Canadian Army Reserve Forces — Vern joined Unity Branch No. 90 in the early 1960s. From the start, he worked hard. As an electrician, he knew the building trades, had contacts and know how to get jobs done.

When the Boy Scout Camp was constructed at Atton’s Lake, a Legion-assisted project, Vern and his helpers build the dining hall and other smaller buildings.

Committed to athletics, like his older brother Robert Burns, Vern coached and played, both in local and Legion-organized sports.

Eventually, Vern’s work called him and his wife Sadie to other communities. After retirement, he and Sadie returned to Unity and Vern rejoined the local Legion in the early 1990s.

Vern has served as branch president and, for many years, as property manager, performing hundreds of minor repairs to the Unity Legion Hall and, when necessary, consulting other tradesmen. His skill and experience have saved the Unity Legion thousands of dollars through the past 25 years.

Beyond the call of official duties, Vern for years sanded and re-varnished the hall main floor annually. Until very recently, he was usually “first on the scene” to shovel winter snow.

With Sadie, a member of the Legion Auxiliary, at his side, Vern has judged dozens of Remembrance Day essay and poster contests, has helped serve hundred of meals — and cleaned up afterwards — and has been “Johnny on the spot” for countless special projects.

What a wonderful team this team have been, working hard for Branch No. 90 and our community!

Unity veteran awarded French Legion of Honour

The Saskatchewan Honorary Consul for the Republic of France came to Parkview Place in Unity, Saskatchewan,  June 6 to present Second World War veteran Bill Fleming of Unity with the French Legion of Honour. The Legion of Honour ceremony was open to the public and many attended, including members of Fleming’s family who travelled to Unity for the occasion.

The induction and award presentation ceremony opened with O Canada, sung by Natalie Keller and Iza Belle Lucenio, accompanied by Irene Thiessen-Campbell. Natalie and Iza Belle also sang La Marseillaise, the French national anthem. George Ward, Padre of the Unity branch of the Royal Canadian legion, was MC for the occasion, and also delivered a closing prayer. The Wards and Flemings were neighbours in Unity for eight years.

at presentation of French Legion of Honour to Unity veteran Bill Fleming

Honorary Consul Vincent Martin explained that, to celebrate last year’s 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the French government “decided to present awards to all of the living Canadian veterans who participated in D-Day operations.” And not just any award, but the Legion d’Honneur — the highest award possible for France to give, equivalent to Canada’s Order of Canada.

Saskatchewan Honorary Consul for the Republic of France Vincent Martin

William George “Bill” Fleming landed on Juno Beach June 6, 1944 with Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

Addressing Fleming, Martin said, “As a young man, Mr. Fleming, you left your family and your home to cross the Atlantic and participate to one of the fiercest battles in modern history, on a foreign soil, far away from your country, to help the people of Europe to get free from terror and tyranny.

“Your accomplishments during the Second World War are a vibrant reminder of the profound and historic friendship that binds together France and Canada. Our two countries owe each other their very existence as free nations and this indeed creates a special relationship.

“The French people will never forget the act of bravery accomplished (by) Canadian soldiers … There is no winner in war, but sometimes fighting is necessary. and you personify the great Canadian spirit to defend freedom. Your story is a bright example for all generations.”

Martin also said, “Freedom is more important than life. Many people made the ultimate sacrifice to allow others to remain free and unchained. This is the sacrifice that more than 45,000 Canadians made during the Second World War. The D-Day was this very first step that enabled liberty, justice and human dignity to break through.

“Canadian soldiers were on the front line, and it is with extraordinary bravery and sacrifice that they landed on Normandy beaches.”

Martin concluded his speech by saying, “So thank you so much, Mr. Fleming, for fighting at our side for freedom and democracy. Thank you for making France a free country, and thank you for making my family a happy, living family.

“I congratulate you warmly, with my deepest respect! Thank you so much!”

Martin then pinned the Legion of Honour decoration onto the already heavily decorated Royal Canadian Legion uniform Fleming wore for the occasion.

Martin, Fleming and Fleming

Fleming’s son, Harold, who lives in Ontario, read the citation which outlined his father’s accomplishments. Born in Plunkett, Nov. 30, 1916, Bill left home at age 12 to work as a farmhand. He and Nellie Davey were married shortly before the war.

Son of Bill Fleming

“In 1941, Bill enlisted in the Canadian army, joining the First Hussars, a London, Ontario, regiment.” Bill trained as a heavy transport driver and went ashore on Juno Beach with the Allied Forces on D-Day. “The next day, June 7, Bill watched in horror as friendly force bombers mistakenly attached a nearby site where the Sixth Canadian Armoured Regiment had gathered. Bill’s brother, Kenneth Fleming, was serving in that unit. Soon, Bill was informed that Ken had been killed in that raid… With his well-known grit and determination, Bill soldiered on, serving with the First Hussars through Northern France, Belgium and the Netherlands, ‘right up to the German border.’”

After the war, Bill and Nellie  bought a farm of their own near Swarthmore. Harold was their only child. Later the couple moved into town where Bill was eventually honoured with life memberships in the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 90 and the Unity and District Heritage Museum  for his many years of hard work in both organizations. In 2012, Bill received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition of his community service.

The citation concluded with this statement: “This brave, tough old soldier has served well both in war and in peace.”

Earlier Martin had outlined some of the history of the French Legion d’Honneur. “The law that brought the Legion of Honour into effect was passed in 1802, during the reign of Napoleon.”

French Legion of Honour, QE II Jubilee Medal and war service medals

Previous Canadian recipients include former Governor General Michaelle Jean, former Quebec premier Jean Charest, former prime minister, William McKenzie King; Percy W. Nelles, Admiral and Chief of the naval staff during the Second World War; Rear Admiral Leonard Murray, commander-in-chief of Canadian Northwest Atlantic and architect of the Battle of the Atlantic; and Rear Admiral Desmond Piers, former commanding officer of HMCS Algonquin. “There are about 600 Canadian veterans still living in Canada, who have been added to what was a quite small list of recipients of the Legion d’Honneur,” Martin said.

Unity Legion members took advantage of the occasion to also give Fleming his 90th Royal Canadian Legion Anniversary Commemorative Medal. Secretary Theresa Keller presented Fleming with the medal.

After both presentations had been made, the speeches concluded and God Save the Queen sung by those in attendance, many took the time to individually extend their congratulations to Fleming. Cake, coffee and socializing wound up the event. Bill cut the cake, surrounded by cameras!

fleming cake

This week’s paper

You definitely need a copy of next weeks paper, the June 22nd issue of the Unity-Wilkie Press-Herald. Find out whose kids are graduating and how grown up they all look! Yes, it’s our annual Grad issue!

Along with all the grads, you will find plenty more to read and see, including:

  • coverage of the official grand opening of the Unity Credit Union Aquatic Centre last week;
  • wrap-up report for Revolution Dance, including recital photos;
  • a special donation is made by a Unity family to the maternity ward at BUH; and
  • information on Heartland Health’s 2015-16 budget and operational plan
  • elementary school track photos;
  • a sod-turning ceremony for Eighth Avenue Estates and more!

Below – Bobbing for Bottles was just one of the many carnival games set up for kids at the opening celebrations for the new swimming pool in Unity, Saskatchewan.

Unity swimming pool fun and games

Next week’s paper

There were plenty of events to cover in Unity over the week and so it’s another full issue of the Unity Wilkie Press-Herald. Look for:

  • photos and a write-up from the French Legion of Honour ceremony for Bill Fleming;
  • an interview with retiring Unity Baptist Church pastor, and faithful Faith Matters contributor, Bruce Moir;
  • photos and award winners from the UCHS awards night; and
  • provincial track results for UCHS, McLurg High School and Luseland School.

Bruce Moir’s final Faith Matters column, the police report and a NSRBL report also are provided for our readers.

Below, Bill Fleming cuts the cake after being formally presented with the French Legion of Honour, at Parkview Place in Unity, Saskatchewan June 6, 2015 – 71 years to the day after he landed at Juno Beach in France as part of the D-Day landings in the Second World War.

William Fleming

Celebrity “Bull” Riding

15 brave individuals tried their luck at “bull” riding at the Unity Western Days rodeo May 23 and 24, 2015. Results are in the June 8th issue of the Unity Wilkie Press-Herald but here is a photo of the thrills and spills of each of our local courageous (foolhardy?) celebrities, in order of their performances.

Saturday, May 23

Trevor Senger:

Celebrity Bull Riding at Unity rodeo

Scott Brownlee:

Unity Western Days, Celebrity Bull RidingScott Purcell:

Celebrity Bull Riding at Unity, SaskatchewanShae Guth:

Unity Western Days - locals rideAdam Tuffs:Local rodeo action at Unity SK

Mathieu Kiefer:

Celebrity Bull Riding, Unity SKDan Feser:Unity Western Days Celebrity Bull Riding

Joel Schell

Unity's celebrities ride cows!

Kevin Martin:

Celebrity Cow Riding at Unity SK

Ryan Zunti:

Unity Western Days

Dustin Wallace:

Western Days at Unity SK, 2015

Colton Timmermans:

Cow 1 - Celebrity Bull Rider 0Leila Ward:

All smiles even after being bucked off!Rob Jackson:

Unity Western Days, Celebrity Bull RidingBryce Woytiuk:

Out of the chutes ...