Thursday, July 18, 2013

Canadian Identity - Canada the Warrior

Canadian Culture, Canadian Identity, Military History, Canadian Military Culture

The Warrior Spirit Needs Awakening 


My father and uncles fought in the Canadian forces in WWII, Uncle Omar Middleton died when the aircraft he was piloting was shot down. My father’s contribution Harry S. Thomson was exceptional, with active duty as a pilot throughout the entire war. My Uncle Woodrow Middleton (Canadian) fought as a US paratrooper in Asia and was taken prisoner of war there. Much of my identity stems from this Canadian heritage. There is some effort to attach pride to our actions in the wars; they always seem to be wanting in the breadth and enthusiasm. Canada’s intellectuals seem so afraid of the warrior spirit being ignited, that a critical component of our nation’s history is understated due to a fews' misdirected efforts is shameful. In contemplating my entire exposure to British Columbia’s education system, nary a single compelling exposure to our war history comes to mind. The only war history I have been exposed to has come from personal reading and time around the kitchen table.

We are a brave people and yet our governing and intellectual elites are so wed to bland non-activist anti warlike narrative, a critical element of our countries identity lies languishing completely off our youth’s radar. The warrior spirit is sorely absent in our culture in general. We have people with the warrior spirit, but the warrior spirit has come to them through family as opposed to a can with a maple leaf on it.

The archetype of the warrior gives a robustness to a national identity, the willingness to “through down the cloves” on the big issues is paramount at the heart of culture, in order for a culture to project itself. Whether or not this finds expression in violent action, it is a critical to the development of a collective “eye of the tiger.” Could the active cultivation of the warrior spirit result in collective violent action - perhaps if it is needed - but its existence provides so much more than a war footing. It provides the gumption to act in the defence of others. The world is a long way from being peacenikville, and a little warrior spirit will go a long way to our commanding a position in the world order.

The aversion to warrior verbiage entering our narrative was most emblemised when General Rick Hillier said his was going to “kill some scumbags in Afghanistan”, Canada’s political nambi pambi brigade was out in full force. Surely, when we ask someone to assume leadership in what - is a war after all; we can allow them a little bravado and physiological framing of the enemy. As with anywhere, Afghanistan has a few scumbags, let’s hope they are the ones that got killed and in their absence we’ve helped to promote good.


Canada has every reason to take pride in our contributions as peace keepers, the Lester B. Pearson tradition is a welcome addition to Canada’s military history. Peace keeping however, is dwarfed by our war time contributions. Canada, at the close of WWII had the third largest military in the world, we fielded a million men from a country of 10 million. The US army now barely has a million people. Our actions as warriors are grossly underrepresented in every facet of Canadian culture, form schools to movies – its muted expression is deafening.       
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