This coming Remembrance Week drop by the Mayne Island Library (Southern Gulf Islands) to discover the book “Afghanistan – A Canadian Story”. The book has been gifted to the library by Cascadia Priory of the Order of St George. Veteran and member of the Order of St George, Melanie Graham, will be on hand Sunday November 6 —1:00 to 3:00, to read excerpts from the book, and share some of the back story of how this remarkable book came to be.
“Afghanistan: A Canadian Story” was an almost five-year labour of love, begun in 2010 by Graham and a team of determined volunteers – all still in uniform. The challenge was to gather the boots on the ground stories of our role in Afghanistan, a challenge that often involved travelling across the country. Veterans, however, were initially reluctant to share their experiences, often claiming they were just doing their job. Time, patience, and touring a collection of films on Canada in Afghanistan eventually convinced the men and women who served that their stories were worth telling.
The result is a compilation of 150 of the very human stories, with photographs, of those who served Canada in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2014. At the back of the book is an informative section on the military components that make up an overseas deployment. There’s also a section dedicated to the memory of the fallen, military, and civilian.
Since 2002, 158 members of the Canadian Armed Forces were killed serving in the Afghanistan mission. Four Canadian civilians were also killed, including one diplomat, one journalist and two aid workers. The book has their photos at the back, the casualty page of the web site (see below) has their stories.
The job of collecting the stories was all done at the expense of the project volunteers. Over the course of over two years the submissions were painstakingly reviewed for authenticity, edited, and formatted by the volunteers, with every effort made to retain the integrity of the story tellers.
Once the book was ready for print, we desperately needed funding. We had a small Ottawa firm, Magic Light Publishing, advising us and willing to print our efforts as a beautiful coffee table book, but that would require thousands of dollars that we didn’t yet have. A member of the Order of St George came to our rescue, however, and soon more than enough funding was provided by the Power Workers Union of Ontario. “Afghanistan: A Canadian Story” was successfully launched in Ottawa, 3 November 2014.
In 2015 we discovered that one story in the chapter for 2002, was fraudulent. It had slipped by our fact checkers. Not bad for one out of 150 stories! The author had served briefly in the Army but had never deployed. He made up the story to convince a young lady to date him. The book was quickly revised, a few stories that had missed the cut off added, and one story moved to another chapter year. An e-version was published later that year.
The Order of St George is an international chivalrous Order that has existed in Canada since 2003. Their mission is “to better the health and well-being of members of the Canadian Armed Forces, Veterans and their families, and support the Canadian Cadet and Junior Ranger Programs.” Cascadia Priory is the British Columbia based branch of the Order of St George. https://cascadiapriory-ostg.org/
“Afghanistan: A Canadian Story” is a remarkable book that provides Canadians with an opportunity to better know the men and women who have served and continue to serve Canada.
All proceeds from book sales, by the way, hard copy, and e-version, go to support Canadian Veterans and their families.
More information on the book can be found at http://www.afghanistanacanadianstory.ca/