Great events are based on solid relationships, and the executive director of Wounded Warriors Canada believes that could have been the missing ingredient for the failed Wounded Warriors Weekend.
Scott Maxwell said his large, national organization (WWC) worked with the Weekend Foundation in 2013 before severing ties with them. Asked to support the weekend event, Maxwell and others attended that year in Nipawin.
While he can see how some of the attendees did benefit from the weekend of camaraderie, entertainment and outdoor recreation, WWC saw signs of trouble in the planning and organization.
“After the Nipawin event, we haven’t been associated with them in any way, shape or form,” Maxwell said.
The two organizations are “a completely separate entity” despite having very similar names, and a shared goal of assisting soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
The Wounded Warriors Weekend was to be held in Chilliwack over the B.C. Day long weekend, and would have brought in about 250 soldiers and first responders living with post traumatic stress disorder. But the WWWF founder and director Blake Emmons officially announced the event’s cancellation on Tuesday morning, citing fundraising difficulties. The local volunteer committee was given just under a year to raise $350,000.
Maxwell called the cancellation of this year’s event “horrific” for those soldiers who were counting on attending. But at the same time, he said, the potential for disaster during the event has been averted.
“The only thing we can be thankful for is we didn’t put people into this event that was not properly organized, and that they aren’t going to be put into a situation that didn’t have the outcomes in place.”
In Nipawin, Maxwell said he noticed “a lack of governance, rules, structure and liability,” that would have protected the attendees from potential harm.
“This is why we haven’t been associated in any way,” he underlined. “The reasons why we decided to go our own way in terms of assisting was because we felt a long time ago that an outcome like this might be possible, and for us that’s unsatisfactory.”
Moving the event from town to town meant building new relationships every year, providing extra work for volunteers and requiring more advertising and public awareness.
And while the Weekend Foundation received support from Legion Commands in Alberta and Saskatchewan, the BC Yukon Command did not provide support, for reasons that have not been made public.
In Chilliwack, the volunteer committee earned the support of the Anavets. But on Monday, a sign that had announced the partnership had already been removed from the outside of the building.
Blake Emmons, founder of the Wounded Warrior Weekend Foundation, announced on Tuesday morning that the event would return to Nipawin where it began.
Maxwell took the opportunity to point out that there are plenty of ways for people who want to help veterans with PTSD, particularly through Wounded Warriors Canada, including a service dog program, a Park of Reflection project, scholarships and an equine program.
“We’re a registered charity and we’ve been working hard on this for the last 10 years,” he said.
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