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Season 4: Canada’s Peacekeepers

We are a nation of peacekeepers.

Over the past seven decades, more than 125,000 Canadian peacekeepers have participated in dozens of international efforts all around the world to restore and maintain peace. They have been instrumental in achieving these goals. To recognize their efforts, Canada designated August 9th as National Peacekeepers Day.

In this series, you’ll hear from Canadians who have served on peacekeeping missions and how they proudly served with compassion and courage.

Listen and subscribe through your favourite podcasting app. You can always tell us what you think on social media by using #CanadaRemembers.



Teaser Episode

Teaser Episode

Faces of Freedom is back! Coming up in August, we’ll have five unique stories of Canadian peacekeepers who have served across all regions of the world. Subscribe and stay tuned!

  • Transcript of podcast - Teaser Episode

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:06]

    Every year in Canada, we commemorate National Peacekeepers Day on August 9th. That’s why next month, Veterans Affairs Canada will be back with a brand new Faces of Freedom podcast series.

    Every Tuesday in August, you’ll hear stories from Canadian peacekeepers in your podcast feed. More than 125,000 Canadians have served on peacekeeping missions around the world in the last seven decades, in places like Haiti, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Balkans and many more.

    We hope you tune in next month and learn more about them, their missions, and the impact of their efforts. You don’t want to miss these stories. Make sure to keep an eye on your feed this summer, and share with your friends and family.

    We’ll see you in a few weeks.


Episode 1 - The Middle East: The Golan Heights

Mark Charlton

Originally from Belleville, Ontario, Mark Charlton was an Air Cadet and member of the Infantry reserves, before transferring to the regular force in 1979. After completing his basic and radio operator training, he was posted across Canada and served on peacekeeping and NATO deployments around the world, including a United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights.

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 1

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:05]

    We are a nation of peacekeepers. For more than seven decades, Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions around the world. More than 125,000 Canadians have travelled to areas experiencing conflict and unrest – places like Haiti, the Balkans, and the Sinai Peninsula. There, they’ve helped restore peace and security, while facing extreme climates and dangerous conditions. Join us as Veterans share their experiences as peacekeepers. We’ll hear about their triumphs, struggles, and the human connections they’ve made. With courage, integrity and loyalty, they’ve left their mark.

    Being far from home and family is never easy, especially if your work takes you to a harsh and isolated part of the world where you must carry out your duties surrounded by barbed wire, trenches, and the wreckage of past conflicts between two bitter foes that could explode into flashes of violence. For many Canadian Armed Forces members, this is not a hypothetical scenario. It is real and they lived it—like Mark Charlton, who served in the United Nations peace mission in the Golan Heights of Syria.

    Originally from Belleville, Ontario, Charlton joined the regular force in 1979. After training as a radio operator, he served in postings across Canada and deployments around the world. One of his first experiences was the peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights, where he would face extreme heat—and even come under fire—over the course of his six-month deployment.

    Mark Charlton [01:49]

    Actually it was kind of a last minute one, the Golan Heights cause, actually I wasn't scheduled to go. One of the fellows in my unit in Kingston, he, for some reason, he couldn't go. So the next thing I know was, I guess I volunteered to go to replace him so that's how I got in. I remember reading about, the Six Day War, as a kid. And that was probably my greatest, probably the only real understanding I had of it. Before I did deploy though, the fellow I was replacing he sent me a letter explaining to me where we were, what my job would be and who were the people I’d be working with, sort of thing. So that helped.

    Host [02:35]

    The Canadian presence in the uplands between Syria and Israel is one of the longest-running international commitments ever undertaken by Canada. The Canadian Armed forces have been contributing to the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force mission since 1974. More than eleven years after the mission began, Charlton began his tour.

    Mark Charlton [03:15]

    Flying into Damascus while looking over the cities you’re flying over, you know it was in a wartime situation, I guess at that time. They were fighting with Lebanon at the time, so you're flying in the aircrafts you would see the surface to air missiles that were surrounding near the airport type of thing in case of an attack from wherever and everything was more, like I said, on a wartime footing. We got off the aircraft, there was armed guards. We were collected by the UN buses. Again. As you're driving through the city of Damascus and further out there, as we were heading to the Golan Heights you would see the signs of recent battles and the war's refugees, and so on and so forth, which was unusual to me living in Canada. So you had to get used to that type of environment because you're going to be in it for the next six months, right?

    So I mean I got there in September of that year of 85, when I first got in, it was really hot you had to get adjusted to the climate, the heat, so maybe it takes a couple weeks, like pretty much any of my deployments, except for Russia, there was always hot is just, it's just the nature of the beast. But that in Syria, though, during the winter time, you did get cooler weather, getting a little bit of snow, but mostly kind of got damp, it was rainy type of thing. So, and of course, those buildings aren’t, they're not really insulated, they're mostly clay buildings. So it's no insulation, and so they do get cold in there.

    Host [04:34]

    The United Nations mission in the Golan Heights was designed to create a buffer zone between Israel and Syria, where no military presence, besides that of UN observers, was allowed.

    Mark Charlton [04:44]

    Basically the UN force that was in place there was the area of separation between Israel and Syria at the time. A-O-S, we call it, the area of separation, kind of liken it to like no man's land, was this 10 kilometers / 10 mile, depending on what point of the A-O-S you're at. It could be as short as you know, a few meters or could be a couple miles or kilometers as well. Anyways, within that zone, there's supposed to be no armed operatives, no militaries either Israeli or Syrian and that's what we patrol to keep them apart. Now, that wasn't my job. I was, again, I was communications, I ran communications detachment there but we didn't really get involved with the mandate or the mission, we just provided the comms for the people who were doing this work.

    The soldiers I guess we try to just stop I guess, for lack of a better word. But like I said, I don't think personally we really think we had the means to do that. There's a lot of the times it was more the opposing forces either Israeli or Syrian usually would move in with armored vehicles, which we didn't really have anything comparable at that time, the Israelis would have been using the Merkava main battle tanks at that time and the Syrians were using like T-62 Soviet equipment at times. UN really didn't have anything to try and prevent that from happening. I guess the most they could really do is report there was a violation and I guess UN would make a decision whether they would send in a larger force to try and quell that and that'll be on a different level. But as for the force that we had there, though we were mostly small arms is all we really carried back then.

    We were all Canadians, it was just the four man detachment. It's just me and three other people. Only other outside workers usually daily one of the other UN forces usually patrols by to see how we're doing usually was either the Austrians or the Finns. So usually, once a day, one of the patrols have come by just to see.

    Host [06:59]

    While occupying the buffer zone between Israel and Syria in the Golan Heights, Charlton and his detachment of three other soldiers, spent a lot of time with just themselves. Occasionally, they came under fire.

    Mark Charlton [07:12]

    Most of the time was very routine. There was a couple of incidences where we came under fire a couple times just because of our geography, right? Because we're in the middle of the AOS. So to the west, and to the east of us you had the Syrians and the Israelis, and one of them tried to cross, usually there would be gunfire would start up. We just happened to be in the way so occasionally rounds did go by us, our detachment did get hit at some point in time. We had an underground bunker that we would have to evacuate to in case something like that did happen.

    It was probably my first or second night there, we had an intruder break in through our wire. And they got into actually they got into the bunker somehow, I don't know how they did it. But myself and the guy who, the fella who was on the radio watch they called and warned me that there was somebody, there was somebody in the bunker. So the two of us went down and we armed ourselves cause we didn't carry weapons with us there. So we armed ourselves, went down into the bunker basically chased, whoever it was. My guess was just probably some civilian looking out, scrounging around, they're probably looking for like our fuel or some of our emergency rations were stored down there as well. So that was my first incursion. And another one was when we actually did come under fire from Syrian patrol partway through the detachment. At that point in time, there was only two of us in the house.

    So again, we had to arm ourselves and to basically, protect ourselves until we got one of the others, either a  Finnish or Austrian patrol to come by and see what was going on. We weren't very close to people. So, it usually takes somewhere within 45 minutes to an hour for a relief force to get there. So basically, about 45 minutes to an hour, we had to defend ourselves.

    This was the first time I'd actually been under live fire from somebody else that was actually shooting at me. Basically, I really didn't think of it the first time that I just basically reacted. It wasn't until later on that I was figuring out the, umm, thinking about it. Really, this could have gone south real quick. I mean, we were outnumbered probably two to one or at least three to maybe three to one but yeah, it was kind of afterward yeah you kind of thought about it. Yes, this things could have happened and gone wrong, but fortunately didn't. Whether that's just training that kicks in I really don't know, but uhh came out for the best in the end. So take it at that.

    The other times like say when at nighttime, when people are trying to cross the A-O-S which is mostly at nighttime, you know, they lasted like you know seconds to me it was just the burst of machine gun fire but at nighttime if you're using tracers if you haven't seen tracer fire coming at you at nighttime, it's quite dramatic. Especially to hit stuff it just goes all over the place.

    Host [10:05]

    For over six months Charlton commanded his small detachment in the Golan Heights, continuing to provide communications support to the United Nations Observer Force, while working out of a partially destroyed house in the buffer zone.

    Mark Charlton [10:27]

    It was just the routine of the camp, you know making sure everything’s clean making sure the generators are working and the radios are serviced. Mostly stuff was run by batteries, you know, meant battery maintenance, water, laundry, basic housekeeping cooking, for a matter of fact, I said we didn't have cooks, with us there, just the four of us. So we used to get fresh food, and we'd cook our own food all the time. So I mean yeah, just your day to day like to be at home type of thing right.

    I think I took three weeks leave when I got back to acclimatize back to Canada, to kind of get used to the game, which you need because everything is different all of a sudden you're going from a war zone. And then you're back on the streets. At that time I was in Kingston so I mean, you're trying to get used to traffic, again, the stores and, and normal functioning life for lack of a better word which you haven't been used to for six months. And people especially right. After six months, you really only associate around the four people you're with. So it's kind of like where we are right now, I guess in some aspects, but that you really required that back then.

    Host [11:42]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to the Peacekeeper’s edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. Subscribe, and check out previous seasons, through your favorite podcasting app. If you have a suggestion – whether it’s a guest or a story – you can reach us at Canada Remembers on Facebook and Instagram, and at Veterans Affairs Canada on Twitter. Use the hashtag #CanadaRemembers and tell us what you think. If you’re looking to dig even further into the stories of Canadian Veterans, we have a wide selection online at veterans.gc.ca. Thanks for joining! Until next time.

Interested in learning more about Mark Charlton’s other experiences? Read his They proudly served profile.


Episode 2 - Europe: The Balkans

Wendy Jocko

Born in Pembroke ON, Wendy Jocko is the Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and comes from a long line of Indigenous Warriors. Following in the footsteps of both her parents and five uncles, she served for 23 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, including two peace support missions in the Balkans.

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 2

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:05]

    We are a nation of peacekeepers. For more than seven decades, Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions around the world.

    More than one-hundred and twenty-five thousand Canadians have travelled to areas experiencing conflict and unrest – places like Haiti, the Balkans, and the Sinai Peninsula.

    There, they’ve helped restore peace and security, while facing extreme climates and dangerous conditions. Join us as Veterans share their experiences as peacekeepers. We’ll hear about their triumphs, struggles, and the human connections they’ve made. With courage, integrity and loyalty, they’ve left their mark.

    Music [00:44]

    Host [00:48]

    Many Canadians served in European Community, UN and NATO missions in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, and Macedonia. These new countries arose from the ashes of the former country of Yugoslavia. As of 1991, tens of thousands of Canadian Armed Forces members joined these missions in the Balkans region of southeast Europe. They worked to restore peace and security to the people there.

    Born in Pembroke ON, Wendy Jocko is the Chief of the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan First Nation and comes from a long line of Indigenous Warriors. Following in the footsteps of her parents and five uncles, she served for 23 years in the Canadian Armed Forces, including two peacekeeping missions in the Balkans.

    Music [01:31]

    Wendy Jocko [01:43]

    I have a very vivid recollection of when I was four years old. So that would be 1964. We were living in Petawawa at the time in the village. I was sitting on my little tricycle, and I happened to notice a soldier coming out of the store. And he had the old gray khakis on with the puttees. And just the way he held himself and presented himself. I mean, he, he looked very impressive to me as a four year old child. And at that very moment, I decided that I was also going to be a soldier when I grew up.

    Music [02:25]

    Wendy Jocko [02:31]

    I would have been 17 years old in grade 11. And the Canadian Forces recruiting center sent a sergeant to our school, to give us a talk about the military. So I went home and spoke to my mother. And she encouraged me to, you know, join as well, because my mother comes from Scotland and during the war, she was part of the women's land army. So she was a military person herself, as well as my own father who joined the war effort along with five of his brothers. They all joined the military and were posted overseas during World War Two.

    Music [03:19]

    Wendy Jocko [03:24]

    I do come from a long line of warriors, my great grandfather times six was Pierre Louis Constant Pinesi, he was the grand chief of the Algonquins, back in the 1800s, and he did fight in the war of 1812. So we come from a long line of military people and warriors.

    Music [03:50]

    Host [03:57]

    After joining the Canadian Armed Forces, Jocko trained as a supply technician. She was posted to Western Canada and Ontario. It was in Chilliwack, British Columbia, that she learned she’d soon be deploying to Bosnia. She left for the Balkans in 1993, not knowing much about that part of the world or what awaited there on her first mission to the region.

    Music [04:18]

    Wendy Jocko [04:23]

    I had three children at the time, my youngest was 18 months. So it was a bit of a, you know, you know, a pull at my heartstrings, that's for sure. But they were left in good care with their father and my mother and my, my stepfather. And so I went on to some very involved training at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright. So there was a lot of weapons training, there was certainly a lot of physical fitness training, because you certainly have to be physically fit when you're in the military. And you have to be up to 100% when you're when you're deployed.

    So there were certainly a lot of training. There was a little bit of language training at the time, you know, learning about what was going on in the country, rules of engagement, you know, everything to prepare you, essentially for your deployment.

    Music [05:25]

    Wendy Jocko [05:29]

    When we were deployed. I remember leaving the airport in Calgary, going up the stairs. With my, my little carry on baggage, you know, and because you don't know if you're coming back, but I was going up the stairs and of course, wondering what lay before me. It was quite a long journey I do recall that. I think it was about 17 hours that we were on the plane and I believe we stopped over in Germany and then from there, we took a plane to Zagreb.

    Host [06:07]

    In Croatia, Jocko served with the Canadian logistics battalion on Operation Mandarin, as part of the United Nations Protection Force meant to create the conditions of peace and security. The mission’s mandate was to ensure the de-militarization of portions of Croatia and to protect residents from fear and potential attacks.

    Music [06:26]

    Wendy Jocko [06:29]

    The morale was  high and arriving in a war torn country, there was an eerie silence, of course, you know, amongst the mist it was quite a bizarre feeling. Anyways, I do recall, rolling into the town of Daruvar. And I noticed along side of the hill, there was a little wagon, and they have Roma, people that you know, are in Europe, and they were camped at the side of this landfill site. And I thought to myself, my goodness, I can see a young woman and her children at the at the edge of this landfill site.

    And I said, look at that poor young woman and her children. I said, by the time I leave here, I'm going to bathe those children. So that's my first memory, you know, coming to Zagreb and up to camp Parliament at Daruvar.

    Music [07:30]

    Wendy Jocko [07:36]

    Arriving at the camp it was a beautiful, sunny day. And looking around the town. I did notice I thought to myself, you know, there's a war going on. But, you know, the life goes on because flowers were in bloom against homes that were bullet riddled. You know, there wasn't a lot of people walking around, but there you could still see some people, you know, going about their business. And I thought to myself, yes, like life does go on even during, during war.

    Music [08:08]

    Host [8:12]

    On this first mission, Jocko was responsible for making sure the camp and contingent were well supplied.  

    Wendy Jocko [8:18]

    I was the local purchasing agent. So it was my job to go into the city of Zagreb every day and fill the supply needs of our camp and the contingent basically. So if you went left, which I did every day, you didn't need your weapon. You didn't need your helmet or your Flak Jacket. If you turned right. You needed to be fully kitted out, fully, you know, in defence mode. So I would leave the camp every day, very early, probably around seven o'clock in the morning because it was a two hour drive to Zagreb and I would meet at a specific location to meet our translator.

    We would go around to the different shops for instance, plumbing, electrical, we would go to the suppliers who did our contingent laundry. We would make arrangements for pickups, delivery, and payment.

    And then, of course, it was very dangerous. If you were travelling, actually, the vehicle that I had was actually bullet riddled, you know, from whoever had it before, who obviously ran into live fire.

    Music  [09:38]

    Host [9:43]

    Her first deployment to the Balkans lasted six months. Before she left Bosnia, she reconnected with the family she’d first met on her arrival.

    Wendy Jocko [9:52]

    I mentioned to Dabar, who was the translator that there was a young woman and her children at the side of this landfill and I did go in from time to time. But of course, I couldn't speak the language. But she was there living in a plywood dwelling, basically 12 by 12, with, you know, beds on each side, she lived there, her name, I found out her name was Maria. She lived there with her grandmother, her name was Agatha, and she had two young children. One was a little boy who was about five years old and a little girl named Dragona. And unfortunately, Maria was raped by one of the Serbian soldiers. And this is how little Dragona was born. And they, they had no amenities. I mean, they had no running water, they had the basics, you know, it was very, very sad. And I remember that they had a little fire, that they used to cook off of it was bricks with a little grate over top, and they could cook in a frying pan, you know, any meat or whatever they, you know, were preparing for the day. Very, very sad. So I connected with them.

    I used to leave the camp with some supplies and drive through the, you know, to the landfill to see Maria and her children, drop that off, and on my way home, I would pop in to say hello on my way back. Bearing in mind that I could not speak the language, but I learned very quickly it doesn't matter who you meet, or where they're from, you can always communicate somehow, through hand gestures, you know, smiles, laughter, body language, you know. It was quite amazing that we had a connection even though we couldn't understand each other. So that's when I decided to bring Dabar onto the scene. Because of course he could speak the language and he came with me to meet Maria and her grandmother and the children and basically, you know inquired as to their state of affairs, how they came there. I learned that Maria actually gave birth at the side of the hill, no doctor all by herself with her grandmother, you know, talk about a tough life, a very tough existence. And Maria's father, he lived actually at the top of the hill in Daruvar, in an actual ruin. It was a home, I presume it was bombed out because it was brick rubble, you know, debris all over the place. And her father lived there in a covered wagon with his second wife, and their three little children. And I did learn that one of their beautiful little children, you've never seen such lovely loving little children in all your life, and here they are living, you know, in a covered wagon at the site of a bombed out home, it was very, very sad. And one of the little children, unfortunately, ate something out of the landfill and died while we were there. So, you know, very memorable and to me that made my deployment, well, I felt like I was actually doing something worthwhile and helping a local family.

    Host [13:46]

    At the end of her first tour, Jocko left for home. Five years later, she returned to the Balkans for a second tour. 

    Wendy Jocko [13:54]

    So off I went for the second time in 1998 with two Service Battalion and our contingent, we went back to Zagreb, I was actually stationed at Zagreb at that time. And off we went again, and my job ironically enough, it was the same job that I had, when I went over in 1993. I was, again, the local purchasing agent.

    When I went over in 1993, of course, that was just at the, the heat of the conflict and the attempt, you know, to establish some type of peace and security within the region. And when I went back in 1998, that was what they called the stabilization force, so things were, you know, a little bit more stable, which I could clearly see we had a little bit more freedom of movement. There was, you know, an increase in civilian visibility where nobody really was in 1993 coming out of their homes.

    Buildings that were demolished and the rebuilding, you could clearly see that there was an improvement. And ironically enough, they even had McDonald's in Zagreb in 1998, much to our surprise. I couldn't believe it, they actually had a McDonald's. So, you know, it seem it seemed to be a more bustling and thriving economy in Zagreb at that time, so there was quite a visible difference.

    Music [15:24]

    Host [15:31]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to the Peacekeeper’s edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. Subscribe, and check out previous seasons, through your favorite podcasting app. If you have a suggestion – whether it’s a guest or story – you can reach us at Canada Remembers on Facebook and Instagram, and at Veterans Affairs Canada on Twitter. Use the hashtag #CanadaRemembers and tell us what you think. If you’re looking to dig even further into the stories of Canadian Veterans, we have a wide selection online at veterans.gc.ca. Thanks for joining! Until next time.

    Music [16:05]

Interested in learning more about Wendy Jocko’s service? Read her They proudly served profile.


Episode 3 - Asia: East Timor

Kerry Mould

Kerry Mould’s military career spans over two decades. He has served across the country and abroad on two peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights and East Timor.

  • Transcript of podcast - Episode 3

    Music [00:00]

    Host [00:05]

    We are a nation of peacekeepers. For more than seven decades, Canadians have served in peacekeeping missions around the world. More than one-hundred and twenty-five thousand Canadians have travelled to areas experiencing conflict and unrest – places like Haiti, the Balkans, and the Sinai Peninsula. There, they’ve helped restore peace and security, while facing extreme climates and dangerous conditions. Join us as Veterans share their experiences as peacekeepers. We’ll hear about their triumphs, struggles, and the human connections they’ve made. With courage, integrity and loyalty, they’ve left their mark…

    Music [0:44]

    Host [0:47]

    Originally a Portuguese colony, East Timor was invaded by Indonesia in 1975. For decades, the East Timorese fought a guerrilla campaign against Indonesian occupation. Finally, after a United Nations-supervised referendum in 1999, East Timor voted for independence. This led to renewed violence, as pro-Indonesian militias, at times supported by the Indonesian military, burnt homes, killed civilians and created unrest that resulted in more than 500,000 people being displaced. In response, a United Nations mission was sent to halt the violence and, eventually, help rebuild the country.

    Retired Major Kerry Mould served with the Canadian Air Force for more than 20 years. As an airfield and construction engineer, he was posted across the country, but dreamed of deploying overseas. He always wanted to serve on a United Nations mission. After 10 years in the military, he finally got his opportunity, serving with a peacekeeping mission on the other side of the world, in East Timor.

    Music [1:50]

    Kerry Robert Mould [1:55]

    I really wanted to go on a UN mission. I, being posted to the air division, the actual section that that arranges for all the deployments of personnel from the Air Force to UN missions was one floor down from where I worked. So I went down and badgered the guys and said, “You know, I really want to go, I don't really care what mission to go on, I just want to go on a mission.” So I actually got sent to, to Kingston to do the UN military observers course, in preparation. The UN military observer course is not a specific, mission specific course, it is more of a general course. And what they're trying to, to instill in you is, what is the role of a military observer? What sort of challenges might you face? For example, there's an extensive first aid portion on the on the course, because quite often military observers are in locations by themselves or with one other military observer.

    Host [3:02]

    After completing the UN Observer course, Kerry Mould was placed on a contingency standby list for short notice overseas deployments. Eventually, after more than a decade in the Canadian Armed Forces, he was chosen to serve on a UN mission.

    Music [3:15]

    Kerry Robert Mould [3:20]

    East Timor ended up being the one that there were short notice for to, to send three staff officers to that mission. And so I was selected to go, when they told me I was going to East Timor, I, [laughter] I kind of went “Where is that?” Because I didn't know anything about East Timor. And so I quickly ran off and, and looked, looked up the history of East Timor, and where it was and what the situation was there. I didn't really learn a lot about that until I got the in briefings from the, from DND on what our mission was and where we were going to go and what we were going to be doing.

    Music [4:04]

    Kerry Robert Mould [4:08]

    It was a very, something that I had worked through my whole career towards. At that point, I'd been in the military about 12 years, 10 - 12 years. And I really wanted to go and missed out on a few other missions, just because it didn't correlate with my posting, or, or I wasn't available, or they weren't asking for volunteers they were taking people from specific units. I joined the military to, to do active duty, to do something, you know, that was important. And for real, you know, most of your career in the military is preparing for eventual deployment overseas to, to some action somewhere.

    Music [4:54]

    Host [4:58]

    More than 600 Canadians deployed to East Timor in 1999, where they joined the Australian-led multinational force working to restore peace and security in the country. After the initial force returned to Canada, a smaller Canadian presence remained in the region.

    Music [5:12]

    Kerry Robert Mould [5:16]

    Three of us were sent as the second rotation of three staff officers. And as it turned out, the last rotation of three staff officers. There were, I think, seven battalions of varying nations supporting through the, through the island. The leading forces were the Australians who had a battalion and the New Zealanders. But there was also Portuguese, South Korean, Thai, Filipino.

    It's a South Pacific Island, so it's, you know, palm trees and white beaches. And, and that was sort of one of the first impressions I got as we were landing. But then, as we drove into the city, the poverty level struck me immediately. I mean, the, the, it was a very poor country. And I think at the time, it was the sixth poorest country in the world. And not only that, but everything of value had been burned. So every nice house was basically a scorched wreck. All the marketplaces, everything had been burned, they had ripped down all the telephone lines, the power lines. So the Indonesians had done a very significant scorched earth policy as they pulled out. And that was obvious everywhere.

    I had originally expected because I was a construction engineer, I would be in the engineering section. But when I arrived, I was told nope, that's been taken care of, what we really need is staff officers to work in the intelligence section. As part of my responsibilities within that cell, I wrote a handbook on the political situation in East Timor. It was a small island. But it had multiple political parties because of the fact that it was a completely new country. So we were doing interviews with the political leaders asking, you know, what is your position? What do you believe in? And so I developed a handbook, basically, a small pamphlet that could be handed out to different organizations.

    I got to attend a number of their initial parliamentary sessions, watch how those unfolded, I got to see elections occur. There was actually several members of Elections Canada, who were there working, as well as several RCMP officers, were working with the CIVPOL section.

    Music [7:56]

    Kerry Robert Mould [8:01]

    But I also worked as a day to day Information Officer so we did daily data gathering from all of the, all of the battalions within the sectors. We'd gather daily intelligence report from them, what was going on, issues, problems, all that sort of stuff. We put together a daily info summary. And then within the cell, every day, a different person took the briefing, who would brief it to the, to the general and all the senior officers. So we briefed the, all of the NGOs on a weekly basis. We would brief them on the threats. But for the most part, it was more, you know, these roads are washed out, you know, this is the, the travel in this area is very bad, because of the situation with the roads, was more environmental risks than it was risks of crime or any sort of combat risks. There was a very large and robust civilian component of the, of the mission. So there was already an organization set up to distribute aid to deal with refugees, to deal with resettlement and stuff like that.

    Music [9:26]

    Host [9:30]

    Over the course of his six months in East Timor, Mould witnessed the positive results of their efforts to help rebuild the country.

    Music [9:37]  

    Kerry Robert Mould [9:41]

    There was a lot more structure in the, in the six months. I mean, you saw roads and bridges being repaired. You saw schools being rebuilt, you know, people were going back to work there was you could see, some of the houses that had been burned out, were being rebuilt. The feeling generally across the country was one of optimism. I mean, you had, you know, they had their first parliamentary sessions. They had, you know, deciding their own future. Just to give you an example, the most senior East Timorese, in the previous government, in the in the Indonesian occupation government, had been a secretary who worked in the Ministry of Justice for the Indonesians. That person was, there was, there was about 10 of them were picked. And they were sent to Australia for training on law. And then they came back and formed their own Supreme Court and their own federal court and their own lower courts.

    Music [10:59]

    Kerry Robert Mould [11:03]

    From October 2001, through to March 2002 the situation in East Timor had stabilized considerably. The UN military presence had basically put an end to the, to the Indonesian colonists insurrection against these Timorese, they had mostly left. So there was very little in the way of conflict associated with the independence. Now, there was still issues with criminality. And you have to understand when like, literally, a Western person, the watch on their on their wrist is more than that person would make in a month or two months, like that's the value difference.

    Now, that being said, as a UN military member, I was armed all the time, I carried a pistol with me whenever I left my room. And so even in the daytime, like, we worked Monday to Saturday, basically 12 hour days, and we had Sundays off. And so, Sundays, sometimes we'd go to the beach to go swimming and stuff like that to, to you know, appreciate where we were. And when we would do things like that, there was always several members of the group who were assigned on over watch who would, you know, for those of us who are going swimming, we would leave our pistols, in a pile with a couple of people who are armed. And so that to provide security and I mean, I traveled throughout Dili on a daily basis, I never really felt sort of fear that, you know, we're going to be attacked or anything like that. It was the poverty more than anything, you know, that that was, I think the, you know, what crime there was, was, I think, an issue of people were starving and, you know, needed food, and the decisions where we're being, you know, forced from that, not from any, you know, feeling against the UN personnel.

    Music [13:19]

    Kerry Robert Mould [13:24]

    I left in, in March of 2002. And I did feel that, that I mean, it's a very difficult thing to build a country from the ground up. And, and I saw that firsthand. And I did feel that, you know, there was a long road ahead of East Timor. You don't realize it when you come from, from a wealthy first world country, how much you take for granted. But the grinding poverty was just something that you, you just don't get used to, you know, people living totally hand to mouth, right. They're they’re, they're growing their food, they're raising their animals and if the crop doesn't come in, they don't eat. So it was a, it was certainly an eye opener for somebody like myself coming from a very wealthy country to go visit somewhere where what we take for granted is certainly not taken for granted there.

    Music [14:28]

    Host [14:33]

    And with that, I’d like to thank you for listening to the Peacekeeper’s edition of the Faces of Freedom podcast. Subscribe, and check out previous seasons, through your favorite podcasting app. If you have a suggestion – whether it’s a guest or a story – you can reach us at Canada Remembers on Facebook and Instagram, and at Veterans Affairs Canada on Twitter. Use the hashtag #CanadaRemembers and tell us what you think. If you’re looking to dig even further into the stories of Canadian Veterans, we have a wide selection online at veterans.gc.ca. Thanks for joining! Until next time.

Interested in learning more about Kerry Mould’s service? Read his They proudly served profile.

Would you like to hear more stories? Check out our previous season featuring Veterans from the Second World War. There’s a total of three different Faces of Freedom podcast series you can listen to.

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