Host a Veteran Fishing Derby strives to raise public awareness
In 2007 to 2008, retired Lieutenant Colonel Guy Smith served in Afghanistan alongside his daughter, Captain Stephanie Smith. Due to the experiences, they both faced while in Afghanistan, LCol Smith dedicated his life to raising public awareness of the contributions and sacrifices veterans made for Canada.
“A big part of what we do is elevate the awareness of the contribution of our soldiers and the sacrifices that not only the soldiers give, but their families give as well. I’m trying to do my little part in raising that level of awareness,” said LCol Smith.
LCol Smith became worried for the younger generation of veterans, saying when the public thinks of a veteran, they usually picture someone much older. He wants to see not just the fallen soldiers remembered, but the ones who come back seriously injured or dealing with a PTSI, honoured and remembered as well.
“If you served your country honourably and you’ve signed up for whether it be fires out West, Afghanistan, the Middle East or anywhere else, you’re a veteran that’s proudly signed on the dotted line up to and including your life,” he said. “I take that very personally, and I try and advocate on behalf of our veterans and help the public gain an understanding of our veterans and their contributions to Canada.”
In 2011, LCol Smith started the Host a Veteran (Havet) Fishing Derby with his wife and three daughters, wanting to create a day where veterans and the public can come together and have a fun, relaxed day of fishing and also to learn about one another.
“It’s to get a day of sharing among the veterans, a little bit of give back for their service in the past,” said LCol Smith. “It’s all about an opportunity for sharing and anybody that’s ever come to the Veteran’s Derby has gone away with having had a great time.”
He added it’s also a time where veterans can make connections with other veterans facing the same troubles, the Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) and Veterans Affairs.
Havet is a not-for-profit organization. There is no charge for veterans who are looking to register, but there are opportunities for participants to collect pledges before derby day. LCol Smith said with all the money they have collected up to derby day and after everything has been paid for, the remaining funds go directly to the MFRC.
“MFRC’s are one of the very important factors that military families can go to in order to get help,” he added.
The Havet Fishing Derby begins bright and early at 6 a.m., on June 16, 2018. Boaters, veterans and family members meet at the Bronte Outer Marina launch ramp. Veterans and boaters will break off into groups and enjoy a half-day of fishing until noon.
“Then they come back and participate in a weigh in. We have prizes for first, second and third place for trout and prizes for salmon. The largest combined weight of one trout and one salmon, the boat captain that has that wins what we call ‘King of the Vets’,” said LCol Smith.
He added, everyone gets fed at the barbeque afterwards and gets to take something home whether it be a hat, t-shirt or jacket. No one will leave hungry or empty-handed.
If you would like to learn more about the fishing derby, or if you would like to register as a boater or participant, click here.