Well-meaning fool or con artist? Warren Parke’s bizarre “March Across Canada”

It’s hard to figure out just what Warren Parke’s angle is if indeed that is even his name. He sometimes goes by Warren Michael and sometimes by Warren Michael Parke. He also goes by “The Old Man” on his Facebook page where he has garnered thousands of followers for his “March Across Canada” which was ostensibly a solo man’s effort to raise funds and awareness for veterans. Oh and autism. Along with clean drinking water on native reserves. Oh yeah, he is raising funds for cancer as well.

The goals of the “March Across Canada” are myriad and all seem to be designed to tug at a person’s heartstrings. We all appreciate our veterans and know that they have been poorly treated by the government. We want all of our citizens to have clean drinking water. We certainly are concerned about autism and everybody knows somebody who has been impacted by cancer. One way or another, somebody is going to relate to what Parke purports to be raising funds for which does indeed give him a broad base of people to solicit funds from.

Beginning around Christmas of 2020, Warren Parke left Kelowna with a large cross of his own construction with the apparent goal of walking across Canada and raising funds and awareness for all of the aforementioned causes.

Parke did indeed traverse the country with many stops before arriving in Ottawa around February 14th. He did many appearances with local media in towns at war memorials where local veterans and others thanked him for his effort and put cash into the slot he had carved into his cross for that purpose.

People also generously donated to Parke’s Gofundme page which had raised nearly $10,000 as of this writing.

Since then, in looking at Parke’s Facebook page he has been simply bouncing around Ontario in a random way.

It has been weeks since Parke met his goal of reaching Ottawa and some veterans who had encountered and been pulled into helping Parke along the way are calling foul and demanding to know where the money went.

As details come out, this whole endeavor is beginning to look pretty sketchy to say the least.

Geoff Logue of Virden Manitoba was an Artilleryman of 1 RCHA attached to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry Kandahar Provincial Reconstruction Team. Logue like many veterans who served in combat zones suffers from PTSD. He has been active as an advocate for other suffering veterans and was documented on W5 with his service dog as can be seen below.

Geoff is understandably sensitive to veteran’s issues and when he heard about Parke’s journey, he and fellow veteran Gil Gilbert offered to lend a hand. For around 10 days Gilbert and Logue traveled with Parke and what they saw didn’t look good. Eager to help with what they felt was a worthwhile cause, it took some time before they left Parke.

Logue is now coming out about what he witnessed.

In an interview below, “Rants Derek” of the Plaid Army speaks to Shaun Arntsen who is also an Afghanistan veteran who encountered Parke when he passed through Calgary. Geoff Logue joins the interview at about the 34-minute mark and tells of what he experienced on the road with Parke.

These are veterans so be warned, the language is colorful but the information shared is something else.

The revelations are concerning and enraging.

In going town to town, Warren Parke would apparently raise $400 to $500 per day in cash contributions into his cross. He would then apparently open the cross at night, take off his “cast” and head out to the bars for the night. Parke allegedly rarely did any actual walking aside from town limit to town limit when he could do his Facebook video update and raise more funds from local people wanting to support his causes. It was said that Parke would rarely leave the motel room before 10 am. If that was the true average, Parke could have raised as much as $20,000 during his travels above and beyond the GoFundMe page. It can’t be traced. Parke also got things such as a $500 pair of boots bought for him by Logue and untold other direct contributions.

The personal communications revealed between Parke and Arntsen demonstrate a rather ugly character.

In digging further into this episode on my own, there sure is a great deal that doesn’t add up with Warren Parke’s activities.

In some media interviews, he was open about using a vehicle for some of his travel. He said that he walked for 70% of his journey though.

Parke’s route was not a straight one. It was a circuitous path up to Edmonton, Saskatoon and down to Estevan as he moved to meet with potential donors. Even if he went straight to Ottawa from Kelowna, it would be almost 4,000 kilometers. In walking 8 hours per day, every day it would take about 82 days to make the trip. Oh did I mention that Parke claims that the cross weighs 80-100 pounds and that he apparently has a broken ankle?

To put it bluntly, the timelines and distance make it clear that his claims of how much time he spent walking were bullshit and not by just a little bit. When he will lie about one thing, how many more will he lie about?

Never one to miss an opportunity, Parke auctioned his makeshift “cast” online. Who the hell would want such a thing I will never know.

I am no doctor by any means but I am pretty sure that most casts don’t use that much duct-tape.

Parke hasn’t stopped at grisly, fake casts, however. He plans to auction off the poppies from his cross.

Aside from the difficulties that Parke is facing in justifying where all the money went right now, he is inviting legal action from the Royal Canadian Legion for copyright infringement.

The poppy was entrenched as a trademark for the Legion through an act of Parliament in 1948. They are very specific on who may or may not use the symbol as can be seen in the statement below from the Legion President.

The Poppy Fund is the main vehicle of annual fundraising for the Royal Canadian Legion every year. They sell a number of branded items with the poppy. That is why trademarking is so essential to them. I suspect that Mr. Parke has not gotten the release from the legion in order to use the poppy image.

In having his cross covered in poppy images like that, while Parke has never claimed to be a veteran or claimed to be sanctioned by the Legion, he certainly was not afraid of making that impression.

It could very well be that Warren Parke is indeed a well-meaning but disorganized and muddle-headed individual who was trying to do a good thing. I do like to give the benefit of the doubt.

Parke has put out a recent video on his Facebook page where he claims that none of the money in the GoFundMe account has been drawn out yet and that there is a savings account where he put all the cash raised which he will dispense to a number of charities soon.

All I can say then is what are you waiting for Mr. Parke?

Charities make it very easy to send them funds. They rely on it. A person capable of managing a cross-country trek with video online updates daily can manage to e-transfer funds online. If not, I am certain that he can find somebody among his followers who could walk him through the process.

Warren Parke can shut down the growing number of questions over his initiative quickly and decisively. He could then post a video linking to the receipts for his contributions to these charities. It’s not hard and he can then retain the status that he has pursued as being a person who wanted nothing more than to help out some causes.

If Parke can’t or won’t do this, it may be time for some follow-up from authorities.

There are reasons that charities require registration. I am not a fan of bureaucracy but do understand the need to have some checks and balances which help maintain the integrity of a system of charities that use the funds and time of people in support of causes. When things look questionable with a charity, it harms the ability of every charity to raise funds or recruit volunteers. Things are starting to look very questionable with Mr. Parke’s activities and I hope that he can clarify things before he does further damage to public trust when it comes to fundraising efforts.

There is by the way a Canadian Walk for Veterans which happens every year and I suspect that they would not want to be confused with Mr. Parke.

I really do hope that this is just a matter of confusion. I do look forward to seeing proof that the funds which people donated in good faith actually get to some charities and very soon.

Otherwise, some legal recourse may have to be sought. While the funds may indeed be lost, at least some preventative measures could be taken to dissuade future episodes such as this.

The integrity of charities and fundraising are too important to not follow up on this.

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