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Somalia - Canadian Armed Forces in Somalia

Canadian Armed Forces

Somalia - Canadian Armed Forces in Somalia


Spinning globe with the writing Canadian Forces in Somalia, map of Somalia appears on screen

Goup of Somalian people gathering around the soldier's army tanks, soliders on top of tank

Canada’s role at that time was to try to make

Soldiers and Somalians interacting

progress towards getting the clans together because the clans, it was made up of

Canadian Forces Veteran Robert Campbell

fifteen different clans in Somalia, each one of them professing that they were the leaders of their country.

Soldier pointing to a map during a briefing session

We were briefed pretty well and we kind of expected with the heat, the dust, the disease, the refugee camps.

Helcicopter flying over dusty skies, soldiers on the ground

Somalian children, men and armed personnel walking about

Canadian Forces Veteran David McCardle

The way they treated people, the way the clans treated people, that, that came as a bit of a shock. I saw things that no Canadian

Canadian Forces Veteran Mark Rutherford

was ever trained to see. The shame of it is, like, we had our rations, we had our food and we were fed well on the ship and then you go driving and I mean,

Dusty terrain with tanks and grassy areas

you’re seeing ten, eleven year old kids that,

Young Somalian child with head covered and hands folded looking up to a Canadian soldier

their stomach, you could touch their belly button and you’d be

Three young Somalian youth standing around discarded medal objects

touching their back bone. And there was some not pretty things

Canadian Forces Veteran Mark Rutherford

that, yes, we were trained to be in the army and yes, we’d seen the war movies and everything else but it’s a lot different than a video game

Soldiers walking through the brush while Somalians civilians sit by

when you’re seeing it in real life.

Veteran Dave McCardle

We accomplished a lot though -

Canadian Forces Veteran David McCardle

infrastructure, police, fire, hospitals, churches, schools, all that was accomplished by us

Armed soldier walking towards a group of Somalians standing along the street

as well as providing some stability to the area.

Young children getting heads washed as they pass by the line of adult women

People get fed and get the relief efforts.

Assembly line of young children getting fed and being provided with a fresh towel

Canadian Forces Veteran Robert Campbell

In providing aid to the civilians we would take convoys of food and,

Canvas jeep heading through the town with locals standing along the roadway

Three soldiers in camaflouge helments holding rifles driving through the village

Soldier in discuss with a lady relief works while other soldiers stand in background holding guns

that were supplied by some of the world health organizations,

Three soldiers standing on guard on a clay roadway

and we guarded that, that material from the time it landed at the dock it was looked after and

Local children and adults stand in front of an army group waiting for supplies

until it was given out to the people of the, of the certain villages.

Relief aid worker waves her hands in providing directions for soldiers during relief aid distribution

We would usually have to stay around until it was distributed to the

Canadian Forces Veteran Robert Campbell

local villagers because there would be clans people come in and take it right out of their hands or break into the storage area and take that away and the villagers would be left with nothing.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mark Rutherford

But I remember working with a dentist, standing there with the dentist of the ship for almost 12, 14 hours where he was giving free exams to Somalian children, and we were giving out toothbrushes and toothpaste and we were giving out some food and... The things that we did from the ship to the shore were some pretty amazing things.

Canadian Forces Veteran Robert Campbell

We gave a couple of ration packs to this young man one day. He was their translator in the village and the ration packs, we always frown on the hard rations because they’re boil-in-the-bag, kind of bland, tasteless food. Anyway, he looked at them and he said, this will feed my family for four days, or something like this and we just take it for granted because each ration pack, or hard ration, was one meal for a Canadian.

Headlines in Somailan newspaper, "The News Somalian Teen Tortured"

Without going too indepth but I wish the incidents that happened in March that it never happened.

Canadian Forces Veteran David McCardle

We would be a different Canadian Forces and a different army today if they didn’t happen, but they did so we have to deal with it. Somebody went too far and it should never have went that far, and without blaming anybody or any individuals or any person, any that... It was allowed to happen and I really don’t know why, to tell you the truth.

Canadian Forces Veteran Mark Rutherford

There was a larger group that did an awful lot of good that fails to get mentioned. We did a lot of good in Somalia. It was one of my most rewarding times with the military, but it’s also one of my most eye opening times with the military to see the things that I saw as well.

Collection of interviews with veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces recounting their experience of military service in Somalia.

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Veterans Affairs Canada
February 2, 2010

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