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Little Preparation for Tour to Rwanda

Heroes Remember

Little Preparation for Tour to Rwanda

Got stationed with the 1 Canadian Sig Regiment and when I got transferred there, a week after I arrived in Kingston, Ontario, my house was not even, the furniture was not even in the house yet. I was doing training for Rwanda. I didn't know what it was. I was late to get there because those guys had started before so my training consisted of a bunch of needles that I need to go over there and go to the range to qualify the shooting. Why do we need? We're going there for a peacekeeping mission. You never know. And couple of lectures I attended. They had somebody who was in Canada but from Rwanda came talked to us about the country. Things that we didn't know about, like I was not aware that French is big, is their language over there. I didn't know that. So when we arrived in Rwanda it was a big shock. Big shock as they dispersed people, a lot of people walking on the street. Seemed there was, like a blank on their face, didn't know where they were going. They was, they just want to move, that's all. Seemed to me there was no purpose in moving, but why? We didn't know. And they move us, we went to a stadium in Kigali, Rwanda, and we stayed at a stadium for, that's where our, we were stationed at that stadium. And we were told that, maybe about two - three weeks before we arrived there, there was 2,000 people living in that stadium. When the war started they took the stadium as a refuge place where they wanted for, to be safe. They locked the doors and they let nobody in. Soldiers, so what the soldiers did, they simply cut the electricity and turned off the water for the place and that's it. Two thousand people living in a stadium, no running water, no electricity, nothing, so it was very dirty when we got there. You know, we had to clean, first thing we did, clean the place. I recall the first night, we didn't have any cots then, we slept on the floor in a sleeping bag, and big rats came out to our place. Oh my god, they were the size of a cat. How people can live that way?

Mr. Desmeules describes his tour to Rwanda in ‘95 and the poor living conditions for the soldiers.

Mike Desmeules

Mr. Desmeules was born in 1950 in Jean Pierre, Quebec. With little work in his hometown community, Mr. Desmeules decided to join the armed forces, considering it as an opportunity to travel. At 18 years of age Mr. Desmeules initially joined the Navy taking up the service occupation of administrative clerk. With this occupation being very generic to all branches of service, Mr. Desmeules later joined with the army and in 1975 accepted an opportunity to travel to Egypt with the Signal Regiment. In 1995, Mr. Desmeules accepted a posting to Rwanda, again in the administrative field of occupation. Upon return to Canada, Mr. Desmeules made the switch back to navy service and retired when 30 years of service was achieved. Mr. Desmeules and his family took up residence in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Mike Desmeules
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Royal Canadian Signals Corps

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