Child Soldiers. In Our Cities. In Canada

Some citizens of our fair city are taking this clever “Camp Okutta” ad campaign for War Child Canada a tad too seriously.

Sarah Heywood told CBC News that she flew into a rage when she saw the ads on Queen Street West.

“It just brought up so much anger in me,” Heywood said. “I immediately thought, wow, this is real, this is happening, people are now actually providing these kinds of services and opportunities for people who actually allow their children to go and experience something like that here in Canada.”

She said she was so upset that she ripped down all the Camp Okutta signs that she encountered during the afternoon, “until my fingers were actually sore from tearing at the tape and ripping them off.”

CBC News, “Hoax camp ads outrage Torontonians“, August 22nd, 2007.

One can only imagine what Ms. Heywood must think of Cadets Canada, an organisation designed to foster interest in the Canadian Forces in boys and girls as young as twelve.  And, saints defend us, it teaches marksmanship.  Air rifles, for the most part, but for a lucky few, smallbore and largebore rifles.  In the olden days, a select few used to receive grenade training, too, although that’s no longer the case.

And let’s not even get into the history of the Royal Navy, which used to send first-class volunteers to sea (and hence to combat) as young as thirteen.

None of this is meant to excuse the employment of child soldiers, of course, but in this realm context is everything.  A thirteen-year-old Royal Navy volunteer would be subject to all manner of weekly operational and legal instruction (via the Articles of War) that a modern day “child soldier” such as Omar Khadr would not.   I am certain that Cadets also receive similar background on what is  (and is not) proper employment of the weapons they are trained to use.

The striking thing, for me, is that people are getting up in arms about ads promising small-arms and grenade training that would have been small beer to the Army Cadets of their parents’ generation. This is how I know that today’s Canadian civil populace is utterly divorced from its military brethren; it has no idea that we once offered these things to our own kids, and isn’t remotely aware that one of them is still available today.

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2 Responses
  1. Gorthos says:

    Within months of my parents divorcing in Grade 9, I signed up for army cadets. My mom (former hippy and all) was firmly against it. Best times of my highschool were spent building hooches in the woods with ground sheets, firing old lee enfields refitted to shoot 0.22cal ammo and camping in grubby old school military tents in the woods.. Persons like Ms. Heywood are freakazoids and the children of such persons are probably some of the ones who would best benefit from a summer or three marching and shooting and realizing that just because they have snooty rich parents, that doesn’t mean they are any better than the person in the bunk next to them
    Just sayin’

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    I have nothing but good things to say about cadets. The Army cadets that I knew in school generally got better grades and took a more serious approach to life. They were also far more self-controlled than those of us civvies at a similar age. The great thing about military training (by an actual military) for young people is that it contextualises the martial arts.
    It’s never freelancing in the streets, pulling people out of cars and shooting them in the head, GTA-style. It’s employing specific training and tactics under lawful authority for a specific outcome. You get your jollies working with the hardware, while learning the dangers of, and the proper, legal context for the hardware. Good rifle and revolver clubs can give a young person the same sort of mental framework for firearms, too.