Red Deer Legion elects first female president

She ran four times, coming within four votes last year, but finally the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion has its first woman president.

She ran four times, coming within four votes last year, but finally the Red Deer Royal Canadian Legion has its first woman president.

Bev Hanes was elected Monday night to the post after being on the legion board for 14 years.

She said she still has a lot to prove in her new role.

It was a bittersweet night for Hanes as the same night she won the election, her mother died. Though it has been a week of roller coaster emotions, she is looking forward to her new term.

“I’m quite happy to try to revitalize the legion and to try to get out into the community more and bring our branch back to some part of the heyday,” said Hanes.

She said there was a time when the Red Deer Legion had about 4,000 members in the 1970s, but now it has dwindled down to 1,200.

Hanes has been a member for about 28 years, but it wasn’t until 2000 that she started serving on the board.

She described the president’s role as tone setting. Comparable to a mayor on city council — while they have one vote they chair meetings and set the tone of the organization’s agenda.

“I have a business background, I have a University of Alberta degree and I think I’ll be able to get a good group of people together to take a good look at our future in a different way.”

Through her life, Hanes has worked in occupations that men dominated. Working in both the commercial real estate and insurance industries as a manager.

“It was the real estate in Edmonton where there weren’t too many women managers in our offices,” said Hanes.

“It’s going to be quite a challenge to be accepted, especially by some of the men who don’t feel that a woman and even a non-veteran, should be able to hold that place.”

In her role as legion president she wants to reach out to the community more, and hopefully increase membership.

“We’re a place where the basis is remembrance of our veterans,” said Hanes. “It is a place where families, extended families, can come on a Saturday afternoon for a party or a get together.

“It’s a place where it should be inclusive have everyone feel comfortable likes a Cheers home.”

She also wants to bring the Korean vets back, who she said may have felt slighted after the Korean War, 1950-53.

“I don’t think they’ve ever been given the spot they could have,” said Hanes. “We need them to come back and help out.”

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