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Month: November 2008


Veterans Exposed To Radiation To Receive Compensation

Members of the Canadian military who were exposed to nuclear radiation during allied countries’ atomic tests or in cleaning up accidents at one of Canada’s nuclear reactors will be recognized and compensated for their service. National Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Veterans Affairs Minister Greg Thompson announced Sept. 2 that eligible veterans will be compensated with an ex gratia payment of $24,000. “Through this program, a remarkable group of individuals will finally get the acknowledgment and respect they so rightfully deserve,” said Thompson while making the announ­ce­ment in Calgary, just days before the general election was called. The payment is similar to the compensation offered through the Chemical Warfare Agents Testing Recognition Program, created in February 2004...
Tom Bjarnason
War Art

Tom Bjarnason

Born in 1925 at Winnipeg, Tom Bjarnason was the last of eight children. His love affair with airplanes began the moment he got close enough to touch one. He remembers being six or seven years old—walking for hours to get to Stevenson Field, now the location of Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport. “I could see these airplanes…sitting right there, and I was touching the fabric. It was a thrill I never, ever got over.” For years Bjarnason had dreamed of becoming a pilot, but a vision problem in his right eye ensured his dream would never come to pass. He was conscripted in the army as a signalman and was then sent to England in January 1944. Within a year he was returned to a Winnipeg hospital suffering from pleurisy. “In England I was never warm once. It was like...
O Canada

The Siberian Expedition

On a wooded hillside outside Vladivostok, Russia, 14 Canadians found their final resting place in 1919. Five others died at sea. They were ordinary folk who had enlisted in the closing days of the First World War for service in an unlikely theatre—Siberia. The Canadian Siberian Expedition Force (CSEF), which consisted of 4,213 men and one woman from across Canada, mobilized alongside 13 Allied armies to replace Lenin’s Bolsheviks with a more friendly government. The mission failed in the face of divided Allied strategies and heated domestic opposition, consigning the story to the margins of history. Editor’s note: University of Victoria historian Benjamin Isitt travelled across Russia in spring 2008, uncovering the forgotten history of Canada’s 1918-19 Siberian Expedition. Below is...

Korea: Tension And Remembrance

The shooting this summer of a South Korean tourist cast an uncomfortable shadow over the Veterans Affairs Canada delegation that had come to Seoul to mark the 55th anniversary of the Korea Armistice Agreement signed on July 27, 1953. Park Wang Ja, a 53-year-old housewife from Seoul, was walking on a beach at a tourist area in North Korea when, according to North Korean officials, she strayed into a restricted military area and was shot twice. This was after failing to acknowledge shouts and a warning shot. The killing, coupled with North Korea’s refusal to allow South Korean authorities to examine the scene, has been a setback for the hope of renewed talks between the two Koreas. The opening of the tourist area was seen as a sign of the north being willing to open up. The tourist...

Governor General Announces Medal For The Wounded

Members of the Canadian Forces killed or wounded since Oct. 7, 2001, may be eligible to receive a newly minted honour—the Sacrifice Medal. The Sacrifice Medal was announced Aug. 29 by Governor General Michaëlle Jean. It was created to recognize members of the CF, a member of an allied force, or a Canadian civilian under the authority of the Canadian Forces who died or was wounded under honourable circumstances as a direct result of hostile action. While it is a new honour for the CF, the Sacrifice Medal replaces the Wound Stripe, which was a distinction worn on the sleeve of soldiers who had been wounded in action. “Our soldiers deserve our utmost respect and deepest gratitude,” said Jean. “This medal recognizes the valued contribution of those who sacrificed their health or their...

Veterans Independence Program: In The Name Of Freedom And Dignity

Second World War veteran Phil Bradbury, 85, of Toronto was surprised to learn that in civilian life he’d been missing in action for a couple of decades. Veterans Affairs Canada has been looking for veterans like Bradbury who qualify for, but aren’t receiving benefits under the Veterans Independence Program. The VIP helps aging veterans live independently as long as possible by providing home care support like housecleaning and shovelling walkways, making meals and help with bathing, as well as home adaptation and health support services. Bradbury was on the crew of a bomber that flew 34 missions near the end of the Second World War. All seven crew members survived the war, but not unscathed. “I was injured a number of times.” Five of their planes were destroyed and barely made it ba...

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