Working for veterans earns commendation for Islanders

The Guardian

Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino honoured four Islanders Thursday in Charlottetownfor their outstanding contributions to Canada’s veterans.

Fantino presented three veterans and a civilian with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation during a ceremony at the Daniel J. MacDonald Building.

Those honoured included Byron Clow of Meadowbank, Margaret MacKinnon of Cornwall, William Minnis of Belfast and Darrach Murray of Kensington.

Fantino said it was a privilege to recognize the selfless efforts of these Islanders who have generously given of their time and energy to support and care for veterans.

“Their exemplary contributions are indicative of the enormous respect and gratitude that are shared by all Canadians for the men and women who have served in uniform,’’ said Fantino.

Byron Clow has been a volunteer on the Cenotaph committee for Cornwall for more than 50 years.

He actively supports veterans by volunteering to transport those who can no longer drive themselves to local community card games and crokinole parties. He also dedicates his time to visiting with veterans or their widows and picks up groceries for those who are unable to get to a store easily.

Clow helps to organize a remembrance ceremony held in Cornwall every third Sunday in September.

In 2002, Clow was presented with a certificate of appreciation by Branch 30 (Kingston) of the Royal Canadian Legion for his dedication to veterans.

Margaret MacKinnon served from 1965 to 1995 as a nursing sister in the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps and the Canadian Forces Medical Services. She has been a member of the Royal Canadian Legion for 37 years, receiving a life membership from Branch 1 in Charlottetown in 2007.

In 1970, MacKinnon recognized that there was a need to support veterans with disabilities so that they could also parade during Remembrance Day services. This recognition prompted her and another Legion member to provide transportation for these veterans.

Each November, from 1982 until 2011, MacKinnon organized remembrance services in four nursing homes in the Charlottetown area, setting up indoor cenotaphs for ecumenical services.

MacKinnon has also acted as the pianist for Legion services since 1982, during which time she developed wartime songbooks in large print.

Bill Minnis is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran who spearheaded the fundraising, design, and completion in 2005 of the Service Memorial Fountain located in Charlottetown.

From 2007 to 2010, Minnis served as the honorary colonel of the P.E.I. Regiment and has been very active with the P.E.I. Regiment Association, where he helps to bring together veterans and their spouses.

He is a trustee of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Foundation, which is dedicated to supporting veterans and their families, funding research into rehabilitation for PTSD, and conducting research into improving artificial limbs.

Minnis’ participation in this program has involved mentoring and assisting a number of veterans of the war in Afghanistan in their return to civilian life.

For the past 16 years Minnis has been on the board of directors of the Army Cadet League of Canada serving both nationally and provincially. He also serves as a governor with the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.

Darrach Murray is a Canadian Armed Forces veteran. In the late 1980s, he joined the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping.

After the 2001 ceremony where the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal was presented to more than 100 peacekeeping Veterans in Charlottetown, Murray established the Prince Edward Island chapter of the Canadian Association of Veterans in United Nations Peacekeeping.

Murray approached the government of Prince Edward Island to have it proclaim Aug. 9 as Peacekeepers’ Day and, in 2005, it was proclaimed in perpetuity.

On top of this work, Murray also designed a small, shield-shaped sign to be placed on Prince Edward Island’s Veterans Memorial Highway. Approximately 400 of these signs displaying the poppy have now been installed on the highway as a result of his efforts.

He has written two books, the first documents the post-Second World War history of the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps, and the second the history of 32 (Moncton) Service Battalion.