Veterans affairs the talk of Penticton

Nearly 200 delegates in Penticton for Dominion convention that concludes Wednesday

Dominion president George Beaulieu of the Army

Dominion president George Beaulieu of the Army

Making sure government is responsive to the needs of veterans of all ages is top of mind for delegates at an important gathering that ends Wednesday in Penticton.

The Army Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada began its 52nd Dominion convention here on Sunday, marking the first time in 30 years the event has been held in B.C., according to Deanna Fimrite, the Dominion secretary-treasurer.

She said the 170 delegates from across the country met to set the group’s policy direction, including where it wants to place its focus while lobbying government on behalf of members, who include not just military veterans, but a range of peace officers and firefighters.

Fimrite noted convention delegates are particularly interested in supporting recent recommendations from Canada’s veterans’ ombudsman, such as a call for a new veterans’ charter and better permanent assistance for those injured while serving their country.

“If someone is ill or injured or needs help transitioning properly” back into civilian life, she said, “we need to support them now and forever.”

Like other groups of a similar nature, ANAVETS is working hard to attract new people to the association, she added, and has seen its ranks grow slightly in recent years as Canadian Forces personnel return from Afghanistan.

“I think recruiting new, younger members is still a challenge,” Fimrite said.

“We have to show them and prove to them we care about what’s going on in their lives.”

The convention opened Sunday with a parade, and visits from Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino and B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon.

Besides policy sessions at the Lakeside Resort, delegates and their guests also attended social functions at the host Penticton ANAVETS unit.

ANAVETS is comprised of a Dominion Command, which is located in Ottawa, and seven provincial commands.