CategoryCurrent Events

The Paris Attacks – What it means to Canada

paris for peaceLike everybody I watched the Paris attacks on November 13th, 2015 in utter horror. I had spent a lovely day with my family and suddenly I was glued to the news. These people in Paris… they could be me. Sitting in a cafe having a beer, watching a soccer game…  why?  how? …  I am still filled with abject sadness. It sits there like a brick in my soul.

I just don’t understand. I’m reading everything I can get my hands on and the more I read, the more confused I become. I’m embarrassed to say but before this week I had no idea what NATO’S article 5 meant. Before this week, I didn’t know the difference between ISIS and ISIL and Daesh? What the hell is going on in Syria?  The Refugees… oh the Refugees. President Hollande stated that the events of November 13th were an ‘act of war.’ Are those politically strategic words or are they words born out of anger and anguish?  I am just a hippie from BC… I have too many questions.

These are the things I have learned:

Syria.  

Vox does some great videos explaining the history.  5 minutes that explains just how complicated the whole thing is.

Article 5. To understand this, one needs to go back a step and understand that NATO was set up in the aftermath of WWII to assist with transatlantic security. This allowed economic stabilization to occur and for Europe to rebuild. The important thing to know is that Article 5 states “an attack against one Ally is considered an attack against all Allies” (source). Canada is a part of NATO so does this mean we will be “boots on the ground” soon? What does this mean for our Military Family.

The Refugees. 

If you follow ‘Humans of New York‘ on Facebook you have seen the humanity of Syria captured in photos. Recently a man named Rav Vadgama posted an album showcasing where Syrian children sleep at night. The album is beautiful, poignant and heartbreaking. (click here for the album).  How can we turn a blind eye? The faces, people like you and me… Living their regular lives before all this chaos. Canada has promised to bring in 25,000 refugees before year’s end. This is a huge undertaking. Where will they all go?  These questions have not yet been answered.

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh.  These are all the same organization.

  • ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) was born out of ‘Al Qaeda in Iraq’.
  • ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant) I find it interesting that Al Jazeera is exclusively using this term, David Cameron and Barack Obama have also started using this term.  Levant is a broader term that includes Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. (source)
  • Daesh – President Hollande used this term when addressing the media after the attacks.  Secretary of State John Kerry also uses the term.  It is the Arabic abbreviation of ISIS but is also used as an insult and removes the legitimacy of ‘statehood’ and removes ‘Islam’ from their name. (source)

What about the peaceful Muslims? Are they going to be ok?  The burning of the mosque in Peterborough… The assault on the young Muslim woman taking her children to an elementary school in Toronto…  How can this be happening in my country?  And if this is happening… haven’t the terrorists won?  Making this an “Us vs Them” world?  Surely people understand that this isn’t representative of Islam?  Where is our world going?

 

Finally, I think The Wall Street Journal has written a great piece about the Long War on Terrorism.

I am absolutely heartbroken for the people of Paris.  Their loss, their families and their pain. That could be us. I’m scared for the future – that could be here in Canada, and I am concerned what this might mean for my military family.  I know they will do what is asked of them and I will be proud. But my stomach is still twisting.

To end my fumbling, awkward and rambling blog:  Fear and violence for political gain. That is the definition of Terrorism.

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A Sad Day in Ottawa

Itomb-of-the-unknown-soldiert’s been a year.  One year from that tragic day in Ottawa. Although the fear of that day has passed the feeling of vulnerability hasn’t completely gone away.

On October 20, 2014, a supporter of ISIL deliberately targeted two Canadian soldiers in uniform in Quebec killing Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and injuring one other.

Two days later on October 22, 2014 another gunman shot and killed a uniformed Cpl Nathan Cirillo while he was guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the War Memorial in downtown Ottawa. The gunman then stormed Parliament before he was killed by security.

These two incidents came on the heels of an audio recording released by ISIS specifically targeting western nations including Canada. (Global News)  What made these difficult days for military families was the pandemonium, lack of information on the news as well as mis-information on the news. How many gunmen were there? Were they specifically targeting soldiers? Were our spouses at risk? What would happen tomorrow? As a culture we are pretty adept at weathering and coping with deployed spouses but this was different. This was at home.

Facebook helped.

Our local military spousal site proved to be a very useful resource on this day. The site is typically a positive environment where people posted to Ottawa gather to ask questions and meet new friends. On this day the buildings downtown were in lock-down while the authorities attempted to determine how many gunmen there were and who they were targeting. Many of our spouses wear their uniforms to work making them easy to identify.

Sharing of information proved invaluable. Some of the spouses on the site had husbands who had access to phones while others did not. All the while, the media spoke of multiple gunmen with unknown whereabouts. The people on our site rallied around each other and reassured each other with real information. Offers were made to pick up children from childcare as many of the spouses do not have family support and have only been in the community for a short time.

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

Cpl Nathan Cirillo and WO Patrice Vincent

That day was terrible. The loss of two young soldiers is tragic. Families are affected forever.  Many civilians were also affected by that day, as the downtown core turned into a ghost town while people waited. I can only imagine how the workers in the Parliament buildings managed to get through such a horrifying experience.

On October 22, 2015 a ceremony took place at the War Memorial in Ottawa. As we approach Remembrance Day, I am thinking of so many families on this one year anniversary, and thanking them for their sacrifice for their loved one’s service.

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