Sunday, February 9, 2014

SAD DECISION AT VETERAN'S AFFAIRS


 

            I guess I just happened to be in the right place at the right time as I was in the Kipling Goodtimer’s Dressing room at the Kipling Arena right before the KW Oil Kings playoff game last Friday night when I glanced at the TV that was tuned in to the Winnipeg Jets’ home game against the visiting Vancouver Canucks and there were Paige Lawrence and Rudi Sweigers conducting the ceremonial face off for the game! Good for them! With the level of pride that has been displayed from the skating pair’s home towns and local skating clubs I can only imagine how their immediate families are feeling. Wow!

            The XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia will begin on the 7th of February and I am sure that Paige, Rudi and the entire families are absolutely thrilled with their inclusion on the team. Like them and the rest of  The Canadian Olympic Team I can hardly wait for the games to begin.

            However, the swelling pride in the Canadian Olympic Team and the support for all things Canadian that accompanies these kinds of events was tempered by the Conservative Government’s handling of the Veteran’s Affairs Department’s budget cuts and the closing of eight Veteran’s Affairs regional offices across Canada, including one in Saskatoon, which many are calling a betrayal to men and women-young and old-who have served their country.

The office closures, which provide support services to veterans across Canada, are part of a move by Veterans Affairs to shift more services online and to Service Canada outlets which Veteran Affairs says will enhance veteran services. Many Veterans don’t agree with this assessment and feel the cuts and closures will diminish the support that they now receive.

Exacerbating the veteran’s outrage was Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino’s actions when he was to meet with seven ex-soldiers to discuss the Department’s budgetary decisions. First of all Fantino was late for the meeting and then he was confrontational while discussing the changes with the seven veterans during the discussion. Many, including the ex-soldiers, called Fantino’s behaviour “shameful” and “disrespectful”. Fantino has since apologized for how the meeting with the vets was handled but, apparently, the apology doesn’t extend to the budgetary decisions.

The Conservatives portray it as increased efficiency; the opposition parties, public service unions and veterans groups call it cost-cutting to the detriment of those who put their lives on the line for their country.

I am not sure how much “cost savings” there will be in the closures and cutbacks in the Veteran’s Affairs Department but, in my humble opinion, no monetary considerations should be given when discussing the support for our troops who have given so unselfishly of themselves so we can enjoy the freedoms that we have in this country.

            There isn’t a person in Canada that hasn’t been affected by our Armed Forces whether they have served in the Forces personally or they have a family member serving in the Forces or they have lost a family member while he/she was serving in the Forces or they have recently become a Canadian citizen or even if they just moved to Canada last week. Everything, and I mean everything, that we are so proud of as Canadians can be attributed to the sacrifices of our Armed Forces. Lest we forget.

“It’s penny-pinching on the backs of veterans who sacrificed all for this country.” Chris Malette, The Belleville Intelligencer.

 

GHOSTS AT BEKEVAR?



            On January 22nd the half-hour TV show, The Other Side, which airs on the APTN (Aboriginal Peoples Television Network), showed its episode on their investigation into the purported spirits in and around the Bekevar Church. It was the first episode of the new paranormal investigation series’ thirteen episodes into paranormal activities in a number of Saskatchewan locations.

According to their website the show is “Lead by intuitive Jeff Richards, The Other Side is a thrilling series that seeks to find the most haunted corners of the Canadian prairies. Along with researcher Priscilla Wolfe, paranormal investigator Bill Connelly and spiritual advisor Tom Charles, Jeff hopes to reach out to these restless souls who seem to be wedged between the physical world we live in and that of the spirit world, and bring them the peace they need to move on.”
            I’ve been hearing tales of the Bekevar ghost, or ghosts, ever since I moved to Kipling in 1970 with my parents and two of my eight siblings. My Mom had lived in and around the Kipling/Bender/Bekevar area as a youngster in the 1920’s and early 1930’s and had attended services in the church many times. The church would have been fairly new when Mom was going there, as it had been built in 1911-12, so it wouldn’t have been much of a spooky place at that time, I wouldn’t think.

By the middle of the 1960’s, though, many things were changing and a new Bekevar Presbyterian Church was built in Kipling and the old church was only used on special occasions and year by year less and less activity was held in the building that had been the heart of the Hungarian settlement of Bekevar for so many years.

Many of us are aware of how an empty old building, creaking and groaning and cloaked in darkness can become an extremely scary place but it felt like more than just my imagination spooking me when I was brave enough to enter that church at night on too many occasions in my youth.

I am unsure as to when the stories of the ghosts of Bekevar began but by the early 1970’s Kalman and Irene Varjassy’s boys were telling me stories of a woman clothed in white or black appearing on the roads and flagging down rides and then mysteriously disappearing again and leaving only her gloves behind as evidence that she was even there at all. The boy’s stories were my inspiration for the writing of The Bekevar Ghost poem that I penned a few years ago which has been posted in this newspaper on occasion. The poem is not a factual account at all and I took great literary license in the story line strictly for the poem’s rhyming and flow.

However, other stories report lights, shadows and figures in the upper windows and the sound of the church bells tolling. Another report states that there is a male presence whose spirit protects the church. The stories are obviously widespread enough to have caught the attention of many spiritualists and ghost hunters as there have been more than just “The Other Side” people who have looked into the Bekevar Ghost phenomena.

Interestingly enough the old Bekevar Hall, which was built in 1950 near the Bekevar Church, was moved to Kenosee Lake in the ‘60’s and is now part of the Moose Head Inn. The paranormal activity in the Moose Head Inn is very well known and is the subject of The Other Side’s Episode 6. The Western Development Museum, North Battleford and Duck Lake are a few of the many places that have been investigated by the show in its 13 episodes this season.

The Other Side’s Bekevar episode has an interview with long-time Bekevar/Kipling area resident Adele Daku. The Bekevar Church was a huge part of Adele and her family’s life and for her it is a place of many happy memories. Adele was baptised and married in the church and her daughter was married in the church, too, and Adele was the church organist for many years. In her interview she stated that the only Ghost in the church is The Holy Ghost, emphatically showing her feelings on the subject of spirits in the church.

There are believers and non-believers and I would encourage you to find the episode and watch it. It’s well worth the time. You can find the episode online here- http://aptn.ca/fullepisodes/theotherside/. You can also find a copy of my poem The Bekevar Ghost here: http://pnhubbard.blogspot.ca/2008/11/first-post.html.

“They say that shadows of deceased ghosts, Do haunt the houses and the graves about, Of such whose life’s lamp went untimely out, Delighting still in their forsaken hosts.” Joshua Sylvester (English Poet -1563-1618).