is to stop the occupation of Afghanistan by Nato Forces. Canadian Forces.
I have been a member of the military community in four ways. When I was 17, I joined HMCS Malahat in their summer youth employment program. I loved it. We learned how to drill, understand and qualify with weapons, we hiked the entire West Coast Trail as a bedraggled group of 70, including the first portion from Port Renfrew, which many people choose to forego. We learned naval history and tradition, literally learned the ropes, but perhaps most importantly, we learned esprit de corps. I stayed with the reserve unit for 5 years, from ’80 to ’85, working class B (full time) as a cook with the regs. for 3 of those years.
Which led me to the second way in which my military experience commenced. I met and married a Reg. Force Cook at that time and thus became a military wife. This was a whole new experience for me, as a military wife has absolutely no say in the progress of the career, expected to stay quiet and decorous, she must support her “member” in every way. Did you know that a military member may vote federally in his or her home riding, but this is not extended to the non-military spouse? That always ticked me off. But I digress. We were posted to the most beautiful place in the world, bar none. A small listening post in Masset, on Haida Gwaii. The military has since closed that Station, unfortunately for the Haida people, as they were the main employer in town and an economic stabilizer in the region. My son was conceived there, in that sacred place, but destined to be born at our next posting, Canadian Forces Research Base Suffield AB. Or, as I like to call it, Hell. No offence to the good people of nearby Ralston or Medicine Hat, but I’m a left coaster and an artistic type, so for me that place was hell.
During all this time, I took civilian work on whatever base we were attached to, which would be the third facet of my military experience. As a civilian employee and PSAC member, I got 13 years experience before the union dealt us away while Paul Martin tightened our belts by closing Royal Roads Military College. This happened just after my husband returned from a 10 month deployment to Bosnia. Remember the blue Beret? He returned a stranger and our marriage ended soon after. For a while my association with the military was over. Or so I thought.
When my son was 13, he came to me asking to join the local Navy Cadet troop. As we didn’t have any money for hockey or soccer and he seemed to show pride for our military tradition, (as he saw it) of course I signed him up. Cadets are great for poor kids as they provide everything, the uniforms, fundraising, education and, it turns out, a healthy dose of indoctrination into the military culture. Not surprising really that he announced at 17 that he would be signing up for the Reserves. No, the surprise came when he decided to join the 5th Field Battery, artillery. This was 5 years ago. I was extremely nervous at the time and have been since.
I apologise for the lengthy personal history, I wanted to provide you with the full context of my view. I think I speak from a position of wisdom in personal experience with the military culture. And it is a culture, a closed society of members with a clear hierarchy and its own system of law. Much like the RCMP, but that’s a different story.
My son has been going through the recruiting process for months now, to transfer from the Reserves to the Reg. Force Navy. He informed me several weeks ago that he had received an email from Ottawa, unofficially confirming his transfer. With documentation to follow. Then, a phone call. Hiring Freeze. WTF? Hiring Freeze? We are maxed out in manpower from Afghanistan, puffing out our chests with a sudden sense of Artic Pride (not to be confused with Gay Pride!) and ownership and deeply concerned about the influx of brown people terrorists on the BC Coast, not to mention how the Harpercons support the troops and have huge procurement plans for untendered fighter jets. I was immediately suspicious, with good reason.
Last Friday I learned that he has now volunteered to go to Afghanistan. Next July. Until December. Which leads me to my mission. Read everything you can about Malalai Joya. Listen to her words. Write to your MP. Watch the actions of the HarperCons, especially the King himself and his Minister of Defence. If you care about Canada and our proud peacekeeping tradition, watch this blog. As a military mother, as a Canadian I am duty-bound to see that our government does not dishonour our troops. It may be contraversial, but let’s be proactive. We must get out of the war mongering business and back to what we are good at.