A man in Okanagan Falls has had his picture removed from the wall of the Royal Canadian Legion and banned from marching alongside them on Remembrance Day for allegedly pretending to be a veteran.
Following a report from the group Stolen Valour Canada on Jan. 23, posted to both its website and Facebook page, the Legion in Okanagan Falls has taken action against the man.
“We did have a picture of him on our wall, but that’s been taken down,” said Okanagan Falls Legion president Rini van Uden.
Both the Legion and Stolen Valour Canada condemn any individual who is found to be impersonating a veteran. In addition to this, individuals found guilty of pretending to be a veteran can face criminal charges.
Wearing a military uniform without having served is considered a criminal offence, per section 419 of the Canadian Criminal Code, as is wearing marks or medals that are awarded for service.
“It’s an insult to real veterans,” said van Uden. “That somebody would pretend they had done something, but they had never served, or gone through what a veteran has. They insult the families too, especially of deceased veterans.”
According to the Legion, the man was given the opportunity to prove he had served before his picture was removed.
Veteran’s Affairs Canada considers any former member of the Canadian Armed Forces who are released with an honourable discharge and who successfully underwent basic training to be a veteran.
Every veteran receives a service number following their departure from the Armed Forces, which they can use for applying for a veteran identification card with the Canadian government.
“We went on trust, we asked for his number before and he didn’t give it to us,” said van Uden. “We asked again and he didn’t give us his number, or any documentation, so we took down his picture. We have told him he can’t march with our parade.”
According to van Uden to have your photo hang on the Legion wall you must be a veteran.
“We have on our wall some members of the RCMP. For our wall, they’re all local, with certain military or RCMP, or Firemen.”
In an emailed response, Stolen Valour said they were contacted multiple times about the man in November of 2019 in connection to appearing at Legion events, along with his claims to have been wounded in action as a combat engineer in Afghanistan.
Stolen Valour released information about the man after photos of him surfaced at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in Okanagan Falls last year.
“As far as I know, it was only last year,” said van Uden. “He is not a member of the Legion. As far as I know, he never was.”
The alleged fraud came to the attention of Stolen Valour Canada after it was reported the man’s uniform looked dishevelled, as well as bearing inaccuracies.
“I heard that the uniform that he was wearing wasn’t up to regulation,” van Uden said when asked on what he thought would have caused concerns. “And the service medal he had was too long, it was almost double the size.”
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