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Veterans: 29 Jan 2021
'Veterans for veterans': Legion builds apartment for fellow Veterans
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL
|Leo Doiron stands on the steps of a two-storey apartment complex on Main Street in Shediac.|
AUTHOR: DEREK HAGGETT
SHEDIAC – A Veteran of the Canadian military had a plan years ago to build something to help fellow Veterans, and now that plan is the home for eight people.
Leo Doiron and members of the Shediac Legion have built a two-storey, eight-unit apartment building on the town’s Main Street. The building, located right next door to the Legion, was built start-to-finish during the pandemic. Doiron, the past-president of the Shediac Legion, got the idea around a decade ago but said other members didn’t think it was feasible.
“As serious as I was, I had to laugh also because it was more like a dream than anything else,” said Doiron. The 63-year-old served in the military in the mid-’70s and was part of Canada’s peacekeeping mission to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
His goal was to build something for modern-day veterans.
Mike LeBlanc took over as Legion president last week and said the project was Doiron’s vision.
“It was a lot of coordination, a lot of hard work from Leo and the team he put together,” said LeBlanc.
Most of the money was raised through fundraising over the past few years. Doiron said they do have an affordable mortgage but the bulk of the money came from community barbecues, Chase the Ace and 50/50 draws. “Anything and everything,” said Doiron.
The apartment was specifically built for Veterans but LeBlanc said there was a contingency plan if they couldn’t find eight Veterans to live there.
“If we weren’t able to fill it with Veterans, then it was spouses of Veterans, children of Veterans. You have to be involved somehow in the military,” said LeBlanc. “Veterans for Veterans.”
One of those Veterans was Gordie Gallant who was the first tenant at the building when he moved in last fall. The former professional hockey player joined the military when he was 40 and did two tours in Croatia in the 1990s. “It’s beautiful, everything is brand new,” said Gallant. “It’s close to downtown. You can walk everywhere you want to go.”
Gallant played for the Quebec Nordiques in the World Hockey Association and even faced hockey legend Gordie Howe while playing in that league.
When he enlisted, he quickly discovered his playing days weren’t over. “In the army, they didn’t ask me to play hockey, they told me it was my duty,” laughed Gallant. All the contracts for the modern complex were in place before the pandemic hit, Doiron said.
“If all the contracts wouldn’t have been in place it probably would have increased the cost by 20 to 25 per cent,” he said.
Doiron said the tenants are between the ages of 50 and 74. Two of the ground units are wheelchair accessible and two of the eight apartments are subsidized by the government for low-income people.
“There are a lot of Veterans who can’t afford to live in a beautiful apartment,” said Doiron.
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