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Month: September 2021

Commemorating Indigenous veterans
Military History, Military Milestones

Commemorating Indigenous veterans

The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa’s Confederation Park celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It was unveiled on June 21, 2001, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, but the pandemic pushed the 20th anniversary ceremony to Sept. 21. The event was hosted by Aboriginal Veterans Autochtones and featured a speech by Governor General Mary May Simon, the first Indigenous person to hold the position. After the world wars, the role played by Indigenous soldiers went largely overlooked. “As governor general and commander-in-chief, I thank Indigenous veterans—all veterans—as well as active military members and everyone who has sacrificed for our country. As an Indigenous person, I’m proud of all we have accomplished, and I look to the future with great hope,” said Simon. ...
Pick up the pace
Editorial, Our Veterans

Pick up the pace

The backlog of benefit applications at Veterans Affairs Canada is beyond exasperating. Despite good intentions, despite throwing more money and additional people at the problem, the backlog persists, and is even poised to grow as the pandemic winds down, if predictions of veterans’ advocates prove correct.   Veterans Affairs Canada set its service standard at providing decisions on 80 per cent of applications within 16 weeks of accepting them, a target it met for fewer than one in four applications in 2019-2020. This was down from 37 per cent the year before.  The reason for the backlog is simple. The department is flooded with applications. New benefits have come on stream, eligibility for other benefits has been widened, and veterans and serving members of the Canadian Armed For...
‘Artist-diarist’ tells veterans’ stories in paint and pencil
Uncategorized

‘Artist-diarist’ tells veterans’ stories in paint and pencil

Elaine Goble doesn’t consider herself an artist so much as a diarist, telling the stories of the people she depicts in hyper-realistic renderings in egg tempera and graphite pencil. Veterans are the focus of her life's work. “Everybody has a story to tell,” said Goble, whose paintings and drawings are currently on exhibition at the Canadian War Museum. “What story is more compelling than one that is looking at a person alive in my own community who has been informed by a legacy of conflict?” Working from interviews—usually several per subject—and her own photographs (she was once an assistant to well-known Canadian photographer Malak Karsh), Goble delves into the experiences of her veteran muses, infusing each laborious work with detail and symbolism. The lines on Favel’s face ar...
The man who skipped a line
Memoirs, Our Veterans

The man who skipped a line

He signed in the wrong place, but representing Canada at Japan’s surrender was still a career highlight for soldier-diplomat Lawrence Cosgrave Laughter rippled over the waves of Pearl Harbor. It was a breezy, cloudless, perfect Hawaiian day not so very long ago.    Tourists, clad in all sorts of loud and tasteless vacation getups, clustered around a display case on the canvas-topped surrender deck of the battleship and Second World War icon USS Missouri. Now a museum, the 45,000-tonne decommissioned warship in Pearl Harbor is a pantheon for naval history buffs and even the slightly bored sightseers who overrun Oahu. “I am not supposed to say this, but the Canadians signed on the wrong line,” the museum guide said from behind dark, oversized sunglasses. He aimed a laser pointer—the k...
Pop-up camp
Blog, HISTORICPHOTOBLOG

Pop-up camp

As soon as war was declared in 1914, thousands of volunteers descended on a tent city for some very basic training Britain declared war on the Kaiser’s Germany on Aug. 4, 1914, and Canada immediately began readying for the inevitable. Westminster had asked for 25,000 troops in the first contingent. Canada gave 30,617, rallied to the cause by the minister of militia and defence, Sam Hughes. Outside of Quebec, it didn’t take much persuasion. Canada was still a young dominion at the time. Ties to the “mother country” ran deep. Almost half the Canadians who served had been born in Britain. Many had a romanticized idea of war. They flooded recruiting stations and church and community halls in towns and cities across the country. Many belonged to local militias. Some had fought in the Sout...
Arctic Mosquitoes
Canada Corner, Home Front

Arctic Mosquitoes

How a squadron of war surplus aircraft conquered the tundra and mapped Canada’s Far North It was 1946: the war was over, surplus airplanes were going for a song and entrepreneurial spirits were high. Some ambitious veteran pilots and navigators, still adventurous and in their prime, figured the stars were aligned for some kind of flying business.  Over its years, Spartan flew 22 types of aircraft. Three ex-flight lieutenants—John Roberts, Russell Hall and Joseph Kohut—were accomplished aviators and eventual business partners. Roberts had flown P-51 Mustangs with the Royal Canadian Air Force on photo-reconnaissance out of the U.K. over enemy-held Europe. Hall navigated Wellington bombers based in Egypt and the Bahamas. Pathfinder navigator Kohut earned a Distinguished Flying Cros...

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