A HEALING SOLDIER

The Disconnect between Society and Our Veterans

It has been a familiar lament of soldiers throughout time that once the war is finished then society would rather forget about them. In many cases, they come home ill or injured, broken in body or spirit and the adjustment to a ‘normal’ civvy life outside of their military family is challenging.

In Canada, as of late, there have been a few feeble attempts in regards to lessening the pain incurred by a releasing member. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has tried to mitigate the shock of the transition process with their Second Career Assistance Network (SCAN) program. During your duty hours, a service member can attend seminars and receive counselling on resume writing, interviewing, and where to search for jobs. The website du jour that gets pushed is LinkedIn, which in it’s time was probably more professional but has turned into just a more civil cousin of Facebook. The CAF’s efforts are better than nothing but is little more than kind of pointing you in the right direction. Remember, military personnel get moved so often that those personnel contacts that are so important when looking for work are typically absent. So in many cases, the member has to keep scanning electronic job boards ad nausea and fire off applications in the blind. All the legwork after release is upon the member who is dumped out with a few meagre tools in their job hunting toolbox.

Once a member has been released, they come under the auspices of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). At least VAC is listed as an agency to visit upon release so personnel can actually learn something about them and what they can offer for transition services. If you are undergoing a medical release with a pension attached, they’ll help administer getting the monies to you plus other services. If you’re somewhat able bodied, VAC is not much use to you. About all they can provide is up to a lifetime $1000 credit towards career service expenses such as professional resume writing or counselling. It will take some red tape and three to six months to be reimbursed but a few dollars to help with a polished resume is better than nothing. But unless you are really broken, you will not be talking to VAC again until you are looking at being put in a home.

The Government of Canada (GOC) tries to play a part in easing the process of military transition. They allow former military members to compete for internal advertised positions for up to two years after release. It is mostly a waste of time as there is already a handpicked nominee in mind when these advertisements go out. Either that or the process is so geared towards a specific person with a specific set of skills, that a service member doesn’t have a chance unless there is someone coaching them on what HR is looking for. The external GOC positions are also available and most say ‘Eligible veterans and CAF members may apply‘ but all that might get you is the fact that they will at least look at your resume. The entire process to be hired for a GOC job usually takes between 12 to 18 months. Again the positions are looking for specific civilian skill sets that most members would not have and many positions are just for an anticipatory hiring pool where no one may ever be hired. Plus, the HR process is out of touch between linking prospective job seekers with jobs they would be suited to. During the tests and interviews, there is no mention or askance of any skills that would actually be beneficial to the job in question. To illustrate this in an example, HMC Dockyard Halifax needs Sail loft/ Marine Survival Technician Apprentices to work at the Boat Shed. This job is tailor made for ex-RCN bosuns as that was their job onboard ship. But the written test administered was geared towards an officer worker as was the standardized interview. There was not even a question about, ‘Are you good working with your hands?’ The only useful thing about the GOC hiring process is it keeps a bunch of HR people on long term employment as it is next to useless for veterans.

Outside of GOC services there are a few organizations which try to help struggling veterans in transition. Canada Company, a non-profit started in 2006, has been linking up veterans and their spouses with industry through their Military Employment Transition program. Their site proclaims that they have had 2100 hires (in separate emails, they say 3000) since inception. Considering in the close to 12 years they have been around, about 60,000 Regular Force and 25,000 Reserve Force personnel have left the service, that was a re-hire rate of about 3.5%. Not a great track record but again better than nothing. The GOC must have gotten tired of their success rate or wanted to hire more civil servants because Canada Company is being shut down in favour of a contracted service, Agilec. This new GOC contract will just end up being a means to keep the HR company employed while being able to point to something to say, ‘Hey look! We’re taking care of those Vets!’ At least the old outfit was private and non-profit costing the taxpayer nothing. It also attempted to bridge the gap between military skill sets and the standardized civilian skills HR departments look for when they are screening applicants.

This is a huge challenge for ex-military members. There is no section on the computerized job application forms where you can translate all of the innumerable skills and courses that you have picked up over a military career. For example, how do you convey the concept of being in charge of the security of a ship and her company in foreign port where not only you are authorized to use deadly force but are able to order others to do so at your direction. Civilians are unable to comprehend the enormous amounts of responsibility placed upon even the most junior of members. Hence, the gravitas associated with military service will typically be glossed over or ignored.

A few Canadian companies proclaim to be ‘Veteran’ friendly and actually ask for self-identification during the initial application process. Typically, it is just a few ex-military folks who made it out in the civvy world and are trying to pay it back to their former comrades. The Old Boys and Girls club does try to look out for one another where and when they can. Networking will always be the best avenue to find the good jobs.

There are also a few contracted agencies or school programs here and there that will attempt to help a veteran with skills upgrades or to link them with prospective employers. Helmets to Hardhats will offer heavy equipment or construction courses at a discount and will help veterans hook up with employers. Prospect Human Services attempts to link up veterans with those elusive employers. But the problem with all these outfits that want to be helpful is the poor translation of former military abilities and skills to something a civilian employer can understand. In fact, the Prospect recruiters want you to dumb down your military career as it is too intimidating and your resume will be tossed. It seems redundant and demoralizing to go back to school for courses or to start at an entry level position to ‘fit’ civilian job specifications when the member already has years of similar experience.

This is why it is so difficult to find meaningful employment for a member who was in uniform for the mid to long term. The job hunting process is degrading enough especially to someone who had proudly served their country. Being in uniform means sacrifice, time away from family, multiple moves, and sometimes a cost to your body and mind. Finding a job after release is hard enough but to be told that all that military effort and training was for naught, well that is disappointing to say the least.

It is encouraging that there are plenty of good intentions on the part of the government and other Canadians. They just fall short when it comes to concrete results. Veterans are prone to higher incidences of mental and physical issues by default. They do not want handouts but they would like a hand up. Their unique sacrifices in the service of their country demand better results than the current status quo. This is why veterans are taking the GOC to Supreme Court over things like disability pensions and sexual misconduct and gender discrimination. It is why a group of veterans are camping on Parliament hill to raise awareness of the lack of progress in PTSD treatment programs. Veterans get a little irked when PM Trudeau comes out with gems like ‘You’re asking for more than the government can give.’ especially when he seems more concerned with re-integrating returning ISIS fighters. The Liberals have already argued in court that Canada has no ‘duty of care‘ to its veterans. If the PM doesn’t get it about veteran’s issues than how will the average Canadian understand what they are up against? A couple minutes of remembrance in November does not make up for the rest of the year that a veteran is suffering.

In the end, it only seems like it will be veterans looking after other veterans whether they meet at the Legion, the Clubhouse, or through other veteran run organizations. The military becomes your family and family is who you can really count on.

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Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

PRAIRIE BOY

A teepee stands on Parliament Hill during Canada 150 celebrations in Ottawa on Saturday, July 1, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Justin Tang

Virtue Signalling is Going to Tear Canada Apart

Back in 2012, when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed, it was said that this was the point when America started going down a dark path of racial division.  Outfits like Black Lives Matter and Antifa came into ascension. Cities such as Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charlottesville became synonymous with racism, hate speech, and white supremacy. There are running battles between masked activists and the authorities. The Police were made the scapegoats and supposedly the cause of much of the unrest. Cops are being hunted and ambushed while being accused of deliberately targeting and shooting Blacks. In general, tensions and polarization in the States have been brought to a boiling point. Statue removal, revisionist history, and virtue signaling are the tools of the Left while the Right is calling for Law and Order, security, and putting Americans First. Democrats are crybaby, Marxist snowflakes suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Republicans are misogynistic, Hitler loving, fascist Nazis. Toss in all the weapons available to the average American and it’s becoming a slippery slope towards another civil war. People are choosing sides and are becoming intransigent and ignorant with respect to other group’s views and life choices.

Canada may be seeing its own Trayvon Martin moment with the case of the shooting death of Colten Boushie during an altercation on Gerald Stanley’s property back on August 9, 2016. Considering the news coverage and how social media has blown up over the recent not guilty verdict, it would be redundant to rehash all the details of the incident and the resultant fallout. Here is CBC’s version of the witness statements for those of you unfamiliar with the pertinent details.

To begin with, there are a few virtue signaling points which should be highlighted:

  • Within the news coverage, it is frequently indicated that Mr. Boushie was a ‘Cree man’ while Mr. Stanley is just a farmer. Most people would agree that the two men should just be referred to as Canadians or perhaps just men. Why is race being hammered to begin with let alone just on one side?
  • Immediately upon hearing of the not guilty verdict, Prime Minister Trudeau and his Justice Minister Wilson-Raybould issued social media comments implying that the trial’s outcome was wrong and that the judge, defense counsel, and the non-Indigenous jury of seven women and five men came to a non-guilty verdict based on race. Politicians should never speak specifically about any case especially when there could be an appeal. Most people would call this political interference with the judicial process in order to game a desired outcome irrespective of the facts and accepted law.
  • Immediately upon the not guilty verdict, PM Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, and Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould have taken meetings with members of Mr. Boushie’s family who have flown out to Ottawa. The family wants to talk about justice for their son and relative and how the jury system should be changed with respect to putting more Indigenous people into the system. Are the representatives advocating for self-defense rights or stand your ground legislation getting the same high level political access?
  • GoFundMe pages for both the Stanley and Boushie families have been set up. The media is calling the Stanley fund raiser a ‘scalp bounty‘ that’s being set-up by the Far Right. After the non-guilty verdict and the set up of the Stanley page, there was fire and fury to have it removed immediately. The Justice for Colten page set up on September 1, 2017 for the Boushie family has no reported detractors. It does however have the following statement, ‘We believe that Indigenous youth deserve safety and the ability to travel freely on these lands without fear of racism or persecution. We are not trespassers.‘ This seems to imply that Native youth are free to travel anywhere with impunity and with respect to the events of the day, drive around hammered, threaten, and destroy property with no consequences.

For the outsiders not familiar with Native issues especially in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, here are some items to help provide context to the tragedy that occurred on the Stanley farm back in 2016.

  • Nationally, Aboriginals are 2.8% of the population but are 18 % of the incarcerated population. In SK, MB and AB, these numbers skyrocket to 76%, 59%, and 38% respectively where the percentages of the Native population are about 11%, 11%, and 5%. Aboriginal Offender Statistics – 2013-08-15
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Integrated Correctional Services Survey and 2006 Census of Population.
  • The incarceration rate of Aboriginals, as illustrated in the diagram above regarding SK statistics is off the charts.
Source: Statistics Canada, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Integrated Correctional Services Survey and 2006 Census of Population.
  • The incarceration rate of Aboriginals, as illustrated in the chart above regarding AB statistics seems to be directly related to their level of education and employment status. Northern reserves have a particularly difficult time attracting long term teachers that understand the culture. Student retention through to high school is also a challenge with many students having to travel to Southern locales to finish their education. Reserves also have notoriously high unemployment rates.
  • Aboriginal numbers for prison populations, suicides, substance abuse, disease, employment, overcrowding, single parent families, legal and police interventions, you name it are all substantially higher than that of the general Canadian population. This is particularly true for SK, MB, and AB. Sources – Backgrounder: Aboriginal Offenders – A Critical Situation (2013-09-16) &   (2016-03-14)
  • There are no specific numbers related to the crime in the Red Pheasant First Nation area but Statistics Canada 2011 numbers were: 43 per cent of Red Pheasant residents were unemployed, compared with 6.7 per cent in its entire census division; household income on the reserve in 2010 was $19,091, compared with $60,434 everywhere else; and a large swath of the reserve’s residents lack education. This would indicate that according to SK stats and studies that there would be a higher likelihood of increased crime in the area.

So it would seem fairly obvious that Natives are having a rough go of things, especially in the Prairies. They get arrested frequently and fill the Prairie prisons. A good part of it is just being wicked. But a good part of it is being placed in a situation where you have little other than wickedness for your life path. You would think that successive governments since the beginning of Confederation 150 years ago may have done something by now to address a festering problem that only seems to be getting worse. Instead, the latest tactic has been to virtue signal that colonialism was bad, white people committed genocide against the Natives, any actual programs of the past were only done in the spirit of assimilation, and the Natives cannot be held accountable for their lawless actions. This backwards looking view is not going to move us forward as a nation that wants to reconcile with our Native populations.

Meanwhile, the people on the frontlines on or near the Reserves and the interface between the inner city Native ghettos on the Prairies have been dealing with a group of people who are difficult to manage. Below are examples from over many decades of the types of behavior reported to be commonplace amongst groups of Natives:

  • Nurses in Northern MB would report that Native mothers would purposely get their children sick by placing gas soaked rags over their faces. This would happen on Fridays and they would get a flight out to a nearby town with a hospital. Baby would be kept for a night or two and mom would head to the bar to party. Child abuse happens regardless of race but these instances were tied to Natives.
  • Indian Affairs personnel would come across instances where Natives did not care about damaging their government provided housing or equipment. There are plenty of stories of knocking holes in the outside wall for the horses to drink out of the tub or ripping up parts of the house to burn for heat. It is easy enough to find a Reserve with burnt out shells of houses or yards full of dilapidated, rusting cars and garbage. Again, apathy and shiftlessness happens concurrently with high unemployment and people living on the dole. It’s where ‘white trash’ and trailer parks got their derogatory reputations from.
  • Anyone who has been around Natives has seen the devastating effects that alcohol has on them. The racist term connected with a drunk Indian is a ‘Chug’. Too many of them will drink cheap liquor, huff gas, sniff glue, etc. Unfortunately, in too many cases this excessive behavior leads to violence and death. Substance abuse is not obviously just a Native issue, take a stroll around Main and Hastings in Vancouver some time, but quite a few Reserves try to remain ‘dry’ just to keep the alcohol related incidents down.
  • If you speak to law enforcement, they will tell you of the crime, abuse, and violence that occurs every day on Reserves much of which never gets reported. For example, on a MB Reserve up North, an RCMP officer stated that as long as an assault didn’t involve a gun but say only a knife, then they didn’t even bother writing it up. Violence crosses all boundaries though. Many husbands in the MB Mennonite population have this idea that punching your wife is only a bad thing after five or six times.

There’s no sugar coating the mess that has been created with the Canadian Aboriginal population. They have been labelled as ne’er-do-wells and in many cases earned the characterization. It is difficult to bounce back from hundreds of years of stigma and scorn. Commentators on the Stanley case say that it is high time to update the 100 year jury selection process in order to better reflect populations in the area where an incident occurs. Instead, how about Canadian governments update the 1876 Indian Act which has only ever seen two major updates, the last being in 1985? Trudeau has made some progress in the two years after accepting all of the recommendations of Truth and Reconciliation report which took five years to complete. But the Liberal government’s handling of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) Public Inquiry has been a shambles with calls to scrap it and start over. Talk, talk, talk for hundreds of years. It’s no wonder Canadian Indigenous peoples are getting frustrated with the lack of progress. They are trying their best to hold onto their culture, traditions, and some of their original land and hunting grounds. Meanwhile, it just seems as if indignity after indignity is heaped upon them.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe of all the politicians weighing in on the Stanley trial has had one of the best responses. He acknowledged that the province would respect the judicial process. He also stated that it was time to have those ‘difficult’ discussions. These difficult discussions include talking about what’s wrong with Indigenous societies. Unfortunately, when the ‘Politically Incorrect’ speak about such issues, such as Senator Lynn Beyak, they get shouted down, shunned, and shamed. Read some of the letters of support over her views regarding Residential Schools. Her detractors would have you believe that she was on par with a ‘Holocaust Denier’. All sides can share some blame but incidents like these should show the Canadian community that it needs to come together towards common solutions. Rural farmers should not have to feel threatened because they see a van full of young Natives driving up to their property. Young Natives should not think it is acceptable to get hammered out of their minds and wreak havoc outside the Reserve. Instead, governments and communities need to work towards common goals and solutions to address the underlying issues that have never been dealt with.

What Canada really doesn’t need is politicians like Trudeau and his ministers splitting us all into polarized camps with their politically correct virtue signaling. Canada doesn’t need another Oka or more devastated families.

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Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

CATTLE RANCHER

Humans are conditioned to the ‘looks’ of their food hence this hamburger is icky.

Food Nostalgia is Killing the Poor

In Lee Iococca’s Autobiography, he tells a ditty about how his wife’s hamburgers just cannot compete with the burgers made in the company’s kitchen. When he asked about this discrepancy, the head chef told him the secret was the chefs would grind up top grade sirloin for the CEO’s dining pleasure.

I recommend this great, honest article from Chris Newman who is in the boutique farm business. If you’re rich enough to afford Kobe beef every night or to grind up sirloin steak for hamburger, of course you’re going to turn your nose up at a McDonald’s cheeseburger. But there’s a saying, ‘If your belly is full and I’m hungry, you won’t understand me.’ Society has come to the point where the vast majority of people have lost the ability to know what food is supposed to taste like or the effort needed to produce it. Many people miss food coming from the neighbor farmer up the road but their zeal for the ‘old’ ways is hampering how the other 99% of the world is going to feed itself.

BTW, to all the vegan, non-meat, we’ll feed everyone with lentil types, don’t even bother reading or responding to my writing. Protein from animals is part of a healthy diet and it’s in farmer’s best interests to treat them well. Take your new age crap elsewhere.

Ground Beef – Ideally from pastured, grass fed, no growth hormone or antibiotic, kosher, super lean, natural, organic, certified humane, never fed ‘animal’ feed, petted twice daily, sold from a stand at a Farmer’s Market, minimum aged three weeks Black Angus cattle. Only 3X normal price and full of E. coli because there was never any Health Inspection!

The ‘Pink Slime’ case was a good example of the ickiness factor and the evils of mass negative publicity. Here was a splendid innovation of technology reducing waste to create a perfectly healthy protein source. Instead, ABC creates a sensationalist story using ‘Pink Slime’ as the derogatory visual hook followed up with ammonia as the bogeyman. Thankfully, the company sued Disney, the parent company of ABC, and won a sizeable settlement to help compensate their losses.

Through mass marketing and conditioning, the masses are habituated to accept visual stimuli when it comes to food. Apples are supposed to be red or green. Carrots are orange. Salmon is pink. Fish farmers would rather not feed their fish synthetic dye (it costs extra money) to colour the meat but people won’t buy salmon that looks like haddock. Gluten-free labelling is now equated with being good for you. The same goes for the Anti- GMO Project fear labels. It’ll be interesting to see how the new Arctic apple fares now that it is on the market. The anti-GMO types will be fear mongering that it will give your child a third eye. But the farmer who created the product did so partly to reduce all the waste created from apples being tossed due to discolouration or bruising. Even the marketing of the apple pre-sliced and bagged, although very wasteful, has been done because research says kids eat more apples that way. ‘Baby carrots’ led a huge resurgence in the eating of carrots by using this strategy.

The world as a whole needs continuing research into technology that creates better methods of preserving, creating, and transporting foodstuffs. For the Western world, we have eliminated ‘seasons’ when it comes to variety and availability. It is cheaper to transport fish from Europe to Manitoba then to actually catch the fish in Lake Winnipeg. You can store apples in a CO2 environment for 2–3 years. Agronomists have created ‘Golden Rice’ that would probably eliminate Vitamin A deficiency caused childhood blindness in the Third World. It is an exciting time for agriculture and if the Luddite food nostalgic types would get out of the way, then farmers could go about their business of feeding everyone.

It would be nice if everyone was able to know the taste of an apple straight off the tree, the juiciness of a grass-fed T-bone, fresh corn out of your garden, or the novel taste of wild meat. But that’s not been reality ever since the world’s population started shooting up and we moved from an agrarian society to an industrial one. If the 2% of the population that feeds the West decided to quit, all the townies would starve in a couple of months. It’s a fact that mass farming and modern methods are the only way such a small section of society is going to be able to feed the rest.

Meanwhile, if you want that animal humane, organic, heritage food, label everything and you can afford it, go right ahead. Most of that is marketing hype anyways that is separating fools from their money. It is also creating mass neuroses in the population with regards to what they should be feeding their families. California is requiring carcinogenic warning labels on coffee now of all things. It is time to stop spreading the deliberate lies and fear mongering about perfectly good food and methods of production.

All it does is keep empty bellies emptier.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

A FATHER’S DAUGHTER

Daughters, Worlds Apart

I recently read an interesting article entitled ‘Sex is Sex. But Money Is Money.‘ The short story centers on a young 24 year old female Russian immigrant, Svetlana Z, who supposedly has quit the New York City escort business after a 5 year run. She goes into detail about how she became a self-employed prostitute, her life while turning tricks, and where she is at now. I couldn’t help comparing her life’s path with that of my own daughter’s and how their two tales are a metaphor for everyone’s decisions on which life paths we will ultimately follow.

This article is an interesting insight into a murky part of the world that typifies the depravity of chasing money. It’s an insight into how damaging it is to the human psyche when people worship the All Mighty Dollar as their pagan god. I mean no disrespect or judgement but this article could just as easily been a cautionary tale titled, ‘Confessions of Those Who Sold Their Souls’. Svetlana and the people she had as clients had holes figuratively and literally to fill in their lives. They tried to fill those holes with soulless wads of cash. Didn’t work.

I too have a 24 year old daughter. They are both intelligent women, my daughter has a degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Svetlana ran a successful escort service. Both her and Svetlana are pretty and built about the same. My daughter’s blonde hair doesn’t come from a bottle and her physique comes from playing team sports like hockey, roller derby, and baseball. She doesn’t have to pay a personal trainer to motivate her to stay thin, she has supportive friends, teammates, and colleagues. She eats a well-rounded diet with a higher caloric intake then that of a bird. My daughter already has her degree and didn’t have to literally prostitute herself to gather enough money to educate herself. Instead of jerking men off as a young girl she applied her talents and work ethic to school, sports, and Air Cadets. She, like Svetlana, also didn’t want to stay tied to the town she grew up in. This was mainly because many of her female contemporaries that did stay just gave up on life to become pot smoking party girls who had dumbed themselves down to attract a man. At the age of 24, she didn’t have to have sex with hundreds of men to be making $100,000/year at this point. She is able to show her face in public pictures and she has no need to put up slutty photos of her labia. I won’t be publishing a photo of my daughter connected to this discussion. Svetlana’s photos in her story are intended to attract certain types of men. My daughter’s image will not be available for that type of consumption.

My daughter also doesn’t have to lie to her father about where her money comes from. She’s proud of her future as a pilot and military officer. She’s proud of her boyfriend. She surrounds herself with ambitious, talented dreamers who apply themselves. She is happy with herself.

Contrast that with Svetlana, who is broken at the age of 24. I doubt she’ll ever have a true, loving relationship. She might heal herself with time but the lure of easy money could easily drag her back into the escort lifestyle with the first rough patch she hits. It’s interesting how she slags Illinois in her writing. It’s a well-worn chestnut but home is where the heart is. Sure, there are nice places to live but if you have to sell your soul to be there, it’s not worth it. To be honest, I felt that NYC had no soul compared to other cities I’ve visited around the world. It was just big but for me, full of emptiness. To think that the Big Apple is the be all and end all of existence is just as empty as the mindless, endless pursuit of money by all those lonely bankers and Svetlana.

There’s a reason the older bankers were using her services. They were using up the last of their spark. They were coming to the end of the road and realized there was nothing. Money was all they had and all they knew. It could get them a moment or two of pleasure. Of course, they would plead to have Svetlana as a kept woman. At least she’s smart enough and had enough self-respect to realize that she might as well have been a bought and paid for Animatronic sex doll if she had taken one of those offers. Sure, you would have a comfortable life but an empty, soulless one just like the city she lived in. (Just to be clear, I’ll couch my opinion of NYC being soulless with the fact that there are plenty of soulless people inhabiting its boroughs. Similar to Toronto, the city has oases of vibrant life but contains too many dead zones IMHO.)

Svetlana describes an immigrant’s perverted, twisted vision of the American Dream and capitalism. She described how she initially instinctively shied away from easy money for sex. She doesn’t say how young she was when she got to America but I would guess too young for a girl to be off on her own just on the strength of a phone number. It’s a good example of why parenting is so important. My daughter didn’t come from a privileged family with money opening doors for her. She did come from parents who were strong in their support and encouragement. She got to where she is all on her own. Svetlana also got to where she is all on her own but can’t show her face and is trying to pick up the shattered pieces to live a ‘normal’ life.

Chasing money is an empty lie. Much of the West and particularly in America, people are lured into this lie and forget how to live an honest, happy life. That’s why Svetlana doesn’t understand the magic of a baseball triple or why men will brag about their children. She will probably never know the magic of making love to a person you truly love. You can’t buy any of the stuff that truly matters in life. Maybe Svetlana will figure that out sooner than later and not be a washed out husk by the time she’s 40 or less. There’s no need to be publishing photos such as those in her articles if she’s trying to get out of the sex business. It’s her hook that she’s known for so long, she won’t give it up.

This ‘Tale of Two Cities’ or daughters is an interesting contrast in the choices we all face. Do we chase love or money? Do we sell our souls for an ‘easy’, glamorous life or ‘settle’ for a humdrum one? Is it possible to just sell a little bit of my soul and walk the line?

To quote the immortal Robert Frost, ‘(My daughter) took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.’

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

RURAL MANITOBAN

Flin Flon is the only Canadian town to be named after a science fiction character

The Great White North, eh?

Let’s talk about the North Country for a minute. What brings a person like my brother or cousins to places like Flin Flon, MB or Fort Mac, AB? Short answer, the money to begin with. That’s how these boom and bust communities wax and wane in the first place. It’s sad to see communities shut down when the mine peters out, the price of lumber topples, or the plug simply gets pulled on the town. I’ve seen a couple of places that used to be vibrant become ghost towns. Tahsis, BC on Vancouver Island which used to be a mill town. Church Point, which used to be a Native reserve and the inhabitants got moved into Campbell River. They just become decaying corpses with no soul when the people leave. But there are thousands of tiny little Canadian communities hanging on when the people should have left long ago. What makes men and women want to embrace this challenging part of the world? What is the indefinable pull that keeps them in the Land of snow, cold and in the summer, bugs? Even if you went back thousands of years, what kept the Native people from moving further South to what were surely better living conditions?

To answer my rhetorical questions, you could start by chatting with those lovable Newfies about that large rubber band that keeps snapping them back to the Rock. If you’ve never had the privilege to visit Newfoundland, I highly encourage every Canadian to do so. Just do it during the summer and watch out for those damn moose! Personnel anecdote here, if you go during the late fall during hunting season, those moose get pretty scarce. The rest of the time, they’ll come visiting up onto your bridge (Newfie for deck). But just like Canada’s North, the Rock has a horrible climate, it’s tough to grow anything, and you’re isolated from the rest of civilization let alone the rest of Canada. Plus, if you stay long enough, you develop a funny accent, everyone makes jokes about you, and you’ll get this overwhelming urge to play ‘Chase The Ace’!

Miner Statue, Thompson, MB

My belief is these isolated areas allow people the chance to cultivate a spirituality and connection to the land or some may say, Mother Nature. It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. You either love the cold and get out on your sled to check the trapline or you cocoon and just throw a few more logs on the fire. You build a backyard rink, skate until your feet freeze, warm up and stupidly head out for a few more laps. You pit yourself against Mother Nature and learn in a hurry that she’s boss and will not hesitate to kick your ass. But, if you’re respectful of her power, she’ll tolerate you and let you live another day.

Northern Canada is hard living. But it’s good, honest living for those people who embrace and thrive under some of the most challenging conditions on the planet.

Blair’s LinkedIn Profile

Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.

Thompson Radio-Canada Announcer

AN OLD SOLDIER

A Requiem for Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks still bravely singing fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields!

Take up our quarrel with the foe
To you, from failing hands, we throw
The torch: be yours to hold it high
If ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

Every Canadian school child (less so for those in Quebec) has heard or recited the immortal lines penned in 1915 by LCol John McCrae while on duty at a forward dressing station upon the death of a dear friend. Tragically, the doctor himself died of pneumonia on January 28, 1918. The memory of arguably one of the most recognizable Canadian military icons barely registered with Prime Minister Trudeau’s government or the department that oversees these types of ceremonies, Veterans Affairs.

This latest affront to the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) might as well be the final symbolic nail in the coffin for the Services. There is the habitual talk and opinions of getting serious about our military, following the well advertised policies in the new MND’s Strong, Secure, Engaged paper, and really starting to listen to the challenges facing CAF personnel. But talk is cheap. The torch was thrown and no one has been there to catch it.

The CAF has been in shambles and ‘rusting out’ for decades under both Liberal and Conservative governments. Simple procurement of desperately needed equipment is perennially bogged down in political obfuscation and delay. In 1986, when I was sworn into the Air Force, I was meant to train as an Air Navigator for the new Shipborne Helicopter. The RCAF still does not have a replacement ready. In desperation in order to finally push the Cyclone through, the RCAF generals have decided to force everyone’s hand by finally retiring the 50 plus year old Sea Kings. In 1986, our CF-18s were brand new and able to keep up with our NATO allies. Now, we are purported to be in negotiations with Australia for their old F-18 fleet and the RCAF will be flying our antiquated birds until at least 2032. Ironically, the RAAF is making room for their delivery of new F-35s. In 1986, the CC-115 Buffalo had been repurposed for a SAR role and tasked out to various squadrons across the country. The plan was to have a replacement in the early 90’s. Although a contract has finally been awarded, no new aircraft will be showing up for years yet to replace the last few flying antiques in Comox, BC. The lamentations for the Canadian Army and the Royal Canadian Navy are just as deplorable and lengthy for this time period.

Actions on the battlefield during LCol McCrae’s war and actions in today’s wars are what count, not the flowery words of the politicians. A good case in point is the RCN’s urgent need for supply ships. Outgoing Senator Colin Kennedy is adamant about making a decision on the issue. He will not be listened to because of his early retirement which is serving to blunt the cloud of sexual allegations that just came up against him. VAdm Mark Norman clearly saw the need to do something and Trudeau had him removed from his post and holds him in indefinite legal limbo for whatever monstrous transgression that may have occurred. Meanwhile, the Navy finally received an ‘interim’ ship, MV Asterix which will finally give the Pacific fleet its own supply ship again. The Atlantic fleet will just have to keep begging, hat in hand, for help from their allies who have their own priorities.

Shortly after his election in 2015, PM Trudeau promised that ‘Canada was back‘ and ready to carry our share of UN Peacekeeping duties and missions. Years later, there isn’t a single boot on the ground or even any real plans to help our allies whose soldiers have been dying. Laughably, Canada hosted a Peacekeeping summit late last year where participation depended on actual boots on the ground. We only got to send delegates because we hosted the damn thing.

Let alone our present sorry state of affairs with our standing force, our veterans are still in poor shape and suffer from the same lack of definitive action. Veteran’s groups keep taking successive governments to court and run into less than sympathetic Ministers. Veteran’s transition programs to civilian careers are great for helping you with the latest civvy HR approved resumes, how to take HR non-descript interviews, and what to put in your LinkedIn profiles but are very short on actually getting soldiers meaningful employment. Veterans Affairs personnel appear busy and hold regular meetings about their hospital charges concerns and treatment. I confronted one of their reps over the rodent problem at Camp Hill Veterans Hospital in Halifax. Oh, he assured me, we met over that issue and it was dealt with. He didn’t have an answer when I told him mice and rats have been running around in that structure for the eight years my nursing friend had worked there and as recently as the night before were canoodling above her head. It’s all lipstick on a pig and no one wants to get serious about real change.

What we’ve needed for decades now, has been a serious discussion amongst Canadians about exactly where we want to be regarding our military and subsequent world role. We can’t be all things to all people. We can’t keep living the WWI and WWII glory days when we gave our all as a country for King and Glory. Those aren’t the present Canadian values. So, we have to sort out our values. Some commentators are actually floating the idea of disbanding the military. Do we want or need a Blue Water Navy? Do we want to play with the Big Boys like the Americans or do we just want to take care of our own playground? Are we willing to spend blood and gold on the shitholes of the World or are we just going to cluck and finger wag at other countries who do the heavy lifting? We need a firm plan, with firm funding, and a firm direction irrespective of changes of government. Otherwise the CAF will just keep lurching along, crisis to crisis, swinging this way and that with every consecutive government whim like the zombie organization it has become.

The guns have never really gone silent but Canada’s weapons have. We do not remember them, we have not taken up the quarrel, and the torch gives off nothing more than a swirl of smoke. Canada has broken the faith with LCol John McCrae and every one of the over 100,000 men and women who directly gave their lives in service to Canada.

(They) shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields

In memory of: