The Question Of Colour In Canadian Military

With yesterday’s news of death of 6 Canadian soldiers, the question of the Afghanistan Mission has again sprung on to the front pages of our collective consciousness. And with outpouring of grief and sadness of this irreplaceable loss, anger and blame trickle out too. I usually just ignore this kind of anger because I can understand that sometimes people need an outlet for their frustrations. And, invariably, upon reflection these people are usually repentant. But I will not let this kind of statement go unanswered :

“Why is it that when we see the pictures of dead Americans, we see Latinos,
Blacks etc but when we see the pictures of dead Canadians, we see only white
faces. Immigrants come to this country they had better serve instead of
banking on us to protect them”.

Only a very ignorant and a stupid person will say such a thing. I have tried it my best to ignore such people in my life (yes, as a brown person living in Canada, I have come across such people) but this comment really rattled me and I wanted to put my opinion out there in the blogosphere stating a different perspective than our ignorant friend. Keep in mind that my perspective is that of a South Asian.

Immigration to Canada really took off in the 70’s and 80’s. Now it is a steady 200,000 odd immigrants to Canada every year. The families that moved to Canada back in the 70’s and 80’s were predominantly from the middle class or the farmer class from India. This section of the India population has very strong military tradition. But those people that migrated to Canada had absolutely no military background. I have met people like those in India and they do not like the military nor do they want their children to serve in it. The children of such parent were required to become doctors, engineers or lawyers. Military and policing was NOT for them OR for their kids.

When these people came to Canada, they, unfortunately, bought these attitudes with them. Therefore, you will see no sons and daughters from the 1st generation migrant children in the police or in the military. Even in the 2nd generation you will not see people of colour in the military service because the patriarch of the family generally has a say in matter of children’s lives.

And that’s the reason why there are no or very few migrants in the military. It’s simply a matter of “following your parents’ wishes”. These kids did not realise that to actively participate in military services of Canada is not only an honourable step but also a very helpful step.

Moreover, I have seen that military service in Canada is viewed more as “what my father did or what my grandfather did” and “what my children will do” kind of a service. And that’s how it is in England. No one is lining up to join the military because it is an excellent opportunity for the kids but rather because it runs in the family. And until the migrants are taught that the option of military is actually a really good one, they will stay away from it in droves. And that’s where educating the migrants has failed. Most of the migrants I meet or hang around with would not even consider military or police as an option for themselves and, definitely, not for their kids.

I, for one, would be very proud of my daughter, if she told me she wanted to serve for her country – Canada. I would be scared shit-less for the rest of my life but I would be proud.

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