Thursday, 18 May 2017

An unexpected trip to London and a fabulous weekend!

How awesome is it that it's Thursday, and I'm still pumped after a fabulous weekend?
The District "G" Portion of the Convention Parade.  My teddybear is carrying our branch flag. 
What we thought was going to be a weekend comprised largely of meetings and a "work" type atmosphere turned out to be so much different than I had imagined. 

We'd jumped at the chance to attend the Legion Zone Convention in Gananoque just a few weeks before and I hadn't even considered adventuring to London for Provincial Convention. Part not wanting to push my luck  having just gotten back from what we'd been calling the closest thing to a vacation we'd seen in quite a long time, and partly logistics. 

I had been chatting with fellow comrades who were encouraging us to go, and  so I promised to bug my teddy bear.  Much to my surprise, he had already been thinking about it and had started the wheels in motion.   We often joke that this is one of the perks of having been together so long.  We often find ourselves in synch when we haven't actually vocalized our "evil plans."

A bigger bonus was that my cousin Tom was to be the Dominion guest speaker.  I was pretty happy that I would get to be present for that.  I didn't know he would also do the new officer installations but I probably should have guessed.   I got to get some pretty fabulous photos for the family album as well -- Scrapbooker for the win!  As is the norm, I'm way behind on getting the bulk of them posted, but they'll arrive on a Facebook page near you soon. :) 

I thought it was pretty fabulous that a son of my Dad's eldest brother and I, a daughter of the youngest brother would be together at the same convention talking "shop."  I wonder what our Dads would have thought about that. 

It was the longest road trip I've been on in a while, clocking in almost 6 hours by the time we got through Toronto.  It's been a very long time since these poor legs felt like they'd been fashioned into pretzels.  Days later, my knees and legs still haven't recovered but it was so worth it -- I'd do it again in a heartbeat!

The weekend was an opportunity to meet a number of faces to go along with names we already knew as well as a chance to connect with people we talk to regularly but don't always get to see.  I also made a number of new connections and a few new friends.  I really enjoyed the chance to network with other Legionnaires from a variety of experience levels.  I came home re-energized and ready for the new term. For once I felt like I had more answers than questions, though my convention book margin notes remind me I still have much to learn. 

I'm still giggling at just how very different some folks are out of uniform than they are in uniform.  My first Provincial convention I witnessed a new induction for a couple of fellows to something called the Order of the Thong, in the middle of a meeting of the Pink Ladies.   No, I wasn't drunk, nor did I imagine any of it.  Colour me amused.  

I even won a $100 Walmart gift card from one of the vendors on site! 

I really enjoyed the presentation by Invictus Games Co-Captain Natacha Dupuis (Retired Master Cpl., who shared her story and talked about what the opportunity to once again represent her country means to her.  I'd read about the games last year but hadn't really followed them.  After this presentation, I don't think I'll ever look at them the same way again.  CTV London interviewed her as part of the Convention coverage, check it out here.

Maj. Mark Bossi
We also had the opportunity to reconnect with a presenter we'd seen at the Gananoque Convention.  Major Bossi had given such a captivating presentation on the OSI (Operational Stress Injury) Program. It was one of the best presentations I've ever seen -- we were thrilled to bump into him again.  He did speak at this convention as well, but it was a much more condensed version. 

Even though I was an Observer not a Delegate (meaning I didn't get to participate in the vote) being there still made you feel like you were part of the process.  It was SO much better than reading the reports (or having them read to you) after the fact.  

This year the Royal Canadian Legion Ontario Command elected its' very first female President on this the 50th convention.
Sharon McKeown, President of Ontario Command
I found myself listening to how she'd come to be a member of the Legion and smiling to myself as it was my Dad that got me involved too.  I found myself wondering what I'd say if I eventually had the opportunity to share my "why."  

We met the Honourable Kent Hehr, Minister of Veteran's Affairs outside our hotel Friday evening and then caught up with him again the following day and were able to get photos with him.  James teased me that I'd gotten a new photo for my "collection" that I hadn't needed my media credentials to get.  Smartipants. 
James Edwards, Secretary Branch 105 (and my teddybear) pictured with the Hon. Kent Hehr, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Tom Irvine, Dominion 1st Vice President (and my cousin) at Provincial Convention in Londaon Ontario.
I'm always amazed when I meet one of those "larger than life" people that you've only ever seen from afar and you realize that they're people too.  He couldn't have been more personable or friendly.  I spent some time chatting with his photographer as well. 

I was offered a new project this weekend as well, but that's another blog.  I'll wait until we have our meeting in a couple of weeks and I know more about what I'm getting myself into before I start making noise about that.  Just know I am quite excited about the opportunity!!

Now we set our sights ahead to Dominion Convention 2018 in which Tom will be invested as Dominion President.  Come Hell or high water, I definitely want to be there!

Today's blog comes with a very hearty thank you to 3 fabulous comrades who I am proud to hold among my family and friends.  Your constant encouragement and support despite many newbie questions and sometimes hair-brained ideas is precious to me.  Your patience has been so very appreciated.  <3


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