Friday, January 22, 2010


I can honestly say that I am proud of the Canadian military (I can just hear the gasp from some of my faithful readers). Whether it is in their UN peacekeeping work (note the rumblings of discontent from other faithful readers), in Afghanistan or now, in Haiti.

I am proud of the crew of the HMCS Athabaskan, who after a six-day journey dug in on Tuesday in Laogane, a small city just west of the capital, Port-au-Prince, to help by setting up medical tents and providing badly-needed medical supplies and medical care with insufficient equipment.

Sailors from the Athabaskan worked like dogs in the hot sun around the clinic all day, pitching in to set up shelters for patients to escape the heat, providing security, carrying patients and helping translate for the unilingual medical volunteers. They even built a shower so the medical staff could bathe in privacy. And, in typical Canadian style, promised to bring them a cooler of beer from the ship. Then, too cap it off they delivered a baby Tuesday night.

I am equally proud of the crew from HMCS Halifax, who cleared a road and an airstrip and started to deliver supplies in Jecmal, on the south coast of Haiti.
CANADIAN volunteers who opened a medical clinic in a field next to a ruined school on Wednesday and treated several hundred desperate patients in the blazing heat, cleaning infected wounds and mending fractures that have gone eight days without care.

Unlike several other emergency medical clinics in Leogane, where doctors are forced to do amputations without anesthetic, the Canadians have personnel capable of doing nerve block anesthesia so terribly wounded Haitians were treated with far less pain.
But they haven't stopped there.
CANADIAN SAILORS and soldiers have established a beachhead of hope in the port city of Jacmel, cleaning up, delivering aid, medical care and even toys, and laying the groundwork for a more ambitious effort in the weeks ahead.

Sailors from HMCS Halifax and members of DART, the military’s Disaster Assistance Response Team, have taken over the concrete pier and waterfront lot in the shadow of the ruined town, where lovely French colonial buildings have fallen to rubble.

They have cleared streets of debris, dug latrines for Haitians living in a new shantytown, delivered medical care in unbelievably chaotic conditions and extended a runway and are working to establish a proper medical clinic.

On the first day ashore, three sailors worked so hard clearing concrete rubble with their hands that they collapsed from heatstroke.
I am proud of the 200-plus Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) which received the call 12 hours after the quake and immediately deployed to Port-au-Prince with a reconnaissance crew . And precious little idea what they would be in for when they landed.

I am proud of Quebec's Vandoos, which complemented the 500 soldiers aboard the Halifax and the Athabascan. The Vandoos are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next December, and many of the troops preparing to leave for Haiti are volunteers who've just returned from the war. This new contingent, tired but happy to be helping, brings along engineering units, and almost enough medical staff and supplies to man a field hospital. In the blistering heat Thursday afternoon, they were sweeping the grounds to get ready for the medical clinic that DART will set up.

I am proud that Hercules cargo aircraft that are flying in supplies and personnel, even though the airstrip isn't really big enough for the aircraft. When chainsaws used to cut back trees got fouled by palm wood, the sailors ended up cutting them with bowsaws. Perhaps that is why they're now known to the locals as the Canadian lumberjacks.

And apparently I'm not the only one proud of the quick response of the Canadian Forces.

IN THE IMMEDIATE AFTERMATH of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, the Canadian Forces have deservedly earned themselves glowing praise and helped to inspire a sense of nationwide pride.

When they’ve been in need of it in the past, I’ve been the first one over the boards, dropping the gloves and pounding on their helmets, but in this instance I’m prepared to give credit where credit’s due, to both Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Defence Minister Peter MacKay. They were uncharacteristically quick off the draw in pledging large-scale aid and mobilizing a military response effort.

What was even more impressive was the fact that our heavily engaged armed forces, which are supporting both the expeditionary force in Kandahar and the Olympic security operations in Vancouver, were able to mount such a major effort so quickly. Within just hours of the tragedy, the reconnaissance party from the Disaster Assistance Relief Team was airborne and en route to Port-au-Prince.

The highlight of the rapid response, however, was the deployment of Canada’s new C-17 heavy-lift aircraft. Their tremendous cargo capacity enabled the air force to transport two helicopters, complete with ground crew and equipment, to Haiti and begin ferrying out hundreds of Canadian nationals seeking evacuation home.
Which leads to me admitting that this one of those rare occasions when I am even almost proud(sorry, that one is a bit hard to swallow) of our current Conservative government. Both for its quick reaction (or at least getting out of the way of the Armed Forces) and increase in desperately needed aid to Haiti.

And, of course, I am proud of my fellow Canadians for doing what they can.

And yet, through all that pride I can't hlep but wonder ...

(to be cont'd)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i'm so very proud of my husband for what he is doing, and a big thank you to everyone else i'm so proud to be a canadian