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Ruthanne Urquhart

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Curriculum vitae. Ottawa Sun (left), The Maple Leaf, Canadian Vocational Journal, The Maple Leaf.

Text-only clips

• The Last Word: Journalistic writing
• The Last Word: Commemorating good usage
• Command post training a whole-hearted exercise
• Students recreate history, honour veterans
• Review: Three to a loaf: A novel of the Great War
• Scottish town honours Canadian sapper
• Padre Chaim Mendelsohn a perfect fit
Op CONNECTION
• Component Transfer process easier, faster
• Planned DND-VAC changes address 21st-century needs, support
     traditional services

• 'Throughout your career, the file grows'
• Divers expand techniques, hone skills
• The 'Cadillacs' of the fleet
• 'Those who go down to the sea in ships'
• Canucks' Macedonian mission accomplished
• Still playing: Nightmare on Elgin St.
• Experts keep weather-eye on flood threat
• Book review: Jivin' Johnny's Classroom Teacher's Emergency Lesson Plans
• Ratified contract will take teaching into the next millennium
• Book Launch Breakfast

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The Last Word: Journalistic writing
From The Maple Leaf

Journalistic writing is often the leanest (space is always at a premium), most easily understood (if it’s not, what’s the point?), most truthful (libel laws keep it so) writing to be found.

Tim Radford, who has worn many editors’ hats at UK daily The Guardian, has published “A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists.”

His first is, “When you sit down to write, there is only one important person in your life. This is someone you will never meet, called a reader.”

His fourth includes, “...simple words, clear ideas and short sentences are vital...”

His 19th begins, “Beware of long and preposterous words. Beware of jargon.”

These three suggestions alone could revolutionize government writing. Imagine a policy document that could be understood by its target readership. A government Web site that didn’t read like a technical manual. Media response lines that informed rather than confused.

The possibility of successful communication could become a certainty.

Everyone who writes, be it for a newspaper, in public affairs or for the leadership, should go to A manifesto for the simple scribe – my 25 commandments for journalists and read these writing tips. And take them to heart.

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The Last Word: Commemorating good usage
From The Maple Leaf

“...will be commemorating the 100th anniversary of something-or-other...”

The Maple Leaf often receives articles that begin something like this. We know what the writer is trying to tell us, even if the writer doesn’t.

To commemorate something is to preserve or honour the memory of it. The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination commemorates the deaths of 69 people shot by police March 21, 1960, while demonstrating against apartheid restrictions in South Africa. Christmas commemorates the birth—not the birthday—of Christ.

We commemorate events, not anniversaries of events.

We celebrate anniversaries and birthdays.

So, John and Mary celebrated their wedding anniversary by placing a plaque commemorating their wedding in the park where they were married.

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Command post training a whole-hearted exercise
From The Maple Leaf

It was an excellent exercise, according to Colonel Roch Lacroix, second-in-command to Brigadier-General Jonathan Vance.

Exercise UNIFIED READY, a computer-assisted command post exercise held January 8 to 15 in the Director Land Synthetic Environment facility at CFB Kingston, was the culmination of five and a half months of intensive pre-deployment training for Joint Task Force Afghanistan 5-09 Headquarters (JTFA 5-09 HQ) personnel who, commanded by BGen Vance, will deploy in February to assume command and co-ordination of Canadian and coalition civil-military operations in Kandahar Province.

JTFA 5-09 HQ personnel began with individual training in August 2008, followed by unit cohesion exercises. In October, they participated in their first collective command post exercise. But it was during Exercise MAPLE GUARDIAN that they really had an opportunity to sort out how the brigade is going to operate and fight.

“We had troops on the ground out there,” Col Lacroix said, “which allowed the commander to impart his thoughts and intentions to his commanding officers at the front end. And now, this command post exercise really confirms that I and the rest of the headquarters are in the commander’s head. It caps it all off. The headquarters is leaving here knowing full well it can do the mission, confident it can do the mission and ready to do the mission.”

And it’s a very complex mission, one where the combat element is just one piece of the whole. “It’s the other parts to this mission that will bring us victory,” said Col Lacroix. “It’s the governance piece; it’s the development piece; it’s the enduring presence that will be left behind. It’s very complex, and requires a different approach.”

These are the elements that were practised during the command post training exercise. Shura scenarios, for example, ensured that the general and his 2IC will be hitting the ground ready and able to bring a strong yet respectful presence to the table.

As well, the exercise touched, though did not focus on, the international slice of the headquarters’ responsibilities. “We were dealing with a multinational Regional Command (South) headquarters, where Major-General Lessard specifically brought in some members of his staff,” Col Lacroix said. “Our LO [liaison officer] to Regional Command (South) headquarters got a good work out. But the LOs to the British and the Americans – maybe not as much.While this certainly was part of the scheme of things here, the rest of the stuff we were doing—the governance and development, dealing with the press, all the things that have to be done—were the focus of the exercise.”

Ex UNIFIED READY director Lieutenant-Colonel Dave Banks was pleased with the exercise and satisfied with the participation of organizations and departments such as the RCMP, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Correctional Service of Canada. “Without their support and involvement,” he said, “we could not really prepare this HQ the way it needed to be prepared, because what is going on over there is not just a military issue.”

Deploying within the headquarters will be individuals who are on their second tour and, in some cases, their third. From an operational perspective, this level of experience will lend a maturity to the unit, and build confidence. “They’ve seen it; they’ve done it,” said Col Lacroix, “and that allows those who haven’t been over to learn from them.”

JTFA 5-09 HQ commander BGen Vance made a conscious decision early on that the complexity of the mission did not mean that mission training would have to stretch over 12 or 18 months, taking personnel away from home for an extended period of time even before they deployed. Instead, the personnel deploying in February have had five-and-a-half months of intense training during which they stayed at home as much as possible and got home at night as often as possible. “And for those that come from outside the mounting area, who come from as far east as Newfoundland and from the west coast,” Col Lacroix said, “we’ve given them opportunities to get home for long weekends, for the extended Remembrance Day week and for Christmas.”

The lessons learned advantage wasn’t limited to experienced personnel within the headquarters. The HQ also benefitted from the experiences of all the previous ROTOs – not just what they did in-theatre but how they trained. “Those lessons learned, that process we’ve engaged now, CF-wide but particularly within the Army, is working well,” said the colonel.“And the lessons learned process has highlighted that our training is right. It’s complex, and there are some areas we need to focus on more than others, but we’re adjusting it as we go along.”

Ex UNIFIED READY, lacking the visibility of tactical training exercises, could have been taken for a low-key exercise. “I would say this exercise is just as important,” said Major-General Marc Lessard, recent commander of Regional Command (South). “This exercise not only hones individual skills, it also permits you, in challenging and stressful situations, to get to know each other. At the end of the day, you’ve improved your knowledge, improved the knowledge of your co-worker, and you have a better, cohesive team.”

Whether it’s CP training or tactical training for personnel not working in headquarters, Col Lacroix thinks the CF is getting it right. “I really do believe, deep down in my heart and soul, that we have the besttrained soldiers coming out of Canada that we’ve had in decades,” he said. “I believe our training system in Canada, how we prepare our men and women, is developing a superb product. That says a lot about how seriously we take our training. The time and effort, the dollars and cents, the simulations – it’s all worth it. It’s saving a lot of lives, and we’re getting the mission done.”

Afghan-Canadians play vital training role

“I consider it my responsibility to be here,” Mr. Sameer said with quiet conviction. “Giving Canadian soldiers an awareness of the culture not only protects them but also protects the civilians – knowing some of the things that happen, like firing [weapons] at weddings, knowing the way Afghans act, helps both sides come to a mutual understanding.”

Mr. Sameer was one of a dozen Afghan-Canadians, and one Afghan national, who contributed to the recent command post training exercise. The men role-played during shura scenarios, providing insight into Afghan heritage, culture and character, and shura protocol for BGen Vance, Col Lacroix, and representatives of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade and other organizations.

Shuras are an almost everyday occurrence in Afghanistan, at one level or another. “Shura is a group of people who get together to solve a problem,” said Mr. Nangyalai, an Afghan-Canadian who was introduced to shura training by a friend. “Every Afghan is involved in solving problems, and everyone is involved in shuras– not always in political shuras, but in tribal and family shuras.” In Kandahar Province, the current conflict has placed new players at the table – CF and other department and agency representatives.

“We’re given a bio to read about the real person we’re playing,” Mr. Sameer said of his role during the shura scenarios. “We know how Afghans act and react, or how the elders would act – we’ve seen or met many of them. Things come up; questions arise when we speak to the person who is getting trained.We try to be as natural as we can be.”

Leaders and elders in Afghanistan tend to turn first to history, and then move forward in context to the problem at hand, Mr. Sameer said. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want real-time answers to questions they ask the CF commander at the table.

“You may expect to answer in a politically correct way,” Mr. Nangyalai said, “but, most of the time, the tribal leaders, the members of the shuras, expect a straightforward answer. You want to answer their questions as much as possible.”

Mr. Sultany has worked for the CF in Afghanistan as an interpreter and cultural advisor. “I’m sure this is very good practice,” he said.“It will help the commander when he is in Afghanistan.”

Messers Sameer, Nangyalai and Sultany all have family in Afghanistan – that’s why they were reluctant to use their full names or be photographed, and that’s why they do what they do.

“I would like to help bring some changes to Afghanistan, to do whatever I can do for my country,” Mr. Sultany said simply.

Mr. Sameer has participated in several trainings for the Forces, and knows how important they are. “I definitely believe this is a successful training,” he said. “I’ve done a few trainings for Canadian soldiers, in cultural awareness, and this is very, very important. My province [in Afghanistan] is drastically improved in terms of education, reconstruction, parks, recreational activities… but you have to fix the mindsets of people. It’s been 30 years or more of war and I’m expecting 30 years or more to get back to normal. A guy who is 30, all he knows is war. You have to clear that mentality and start from scratch. Understanding by everyone does that.”

Telling it like it is

The Taliban have ambushed an Afghan National Police convoy. They’ve blown up five Canadian vehicles, killing 25 Canadian soldiers. The story is rocketing through Kandahar City.

The truth is, there are no Canadian casualties. And the whole incident was a scenario, put together to train the Public Affairs cell and other JTFA 5-09 HQ personnel deploying to Afghanistan in February.

This particular scenario reinforced for HQ personnel and PAOs that they will be dealing with misinformation on an almost daily basis. “The headquarters has to understand that this is going on,” said Media cell co-ordinator John Selkirk, “and try to get ahead of the Taliban with the story that’s believable, that’s the truth. It’s tricky.”

Mr. Selkirk, an independent contractor, headed a training team comprising two ex-CBC reporters, an Afghan reporter and a former print journalist. As well, Army News provided video capability. During training, the Media cell produced three daily newspapers: an English-language paper representing a Canadian newspaper fed by embedded Canadian journalists; an Afghan newspaper representing those Afghan papers that try to publish a balanced version of the news; and Taliban news representing the Taliban papers, Web sites and radio broadcasts the HQ and, specifically, the PA cell will be faced with in-theatre. The Media cell also put out about 10 minutes of video, representing television, per day.

“The Media cell is particularly concerned with making sure that the PA cell—which consists of one major, two captains and a master corporal—is ready to go,” Mr. Selkirk said. “They are skilled PAOs; they’ve been doing this all their military careers. But every mission has its own specifics, and we’re trying to make this as realistic as possible. Our role is to provide the target audience with products based on activities going on during the exercise, just as real media produce real products based on what’s happening minute by minute over there.”

The video capability provided an added slice of training, giving the Media cell the capability of doing serious interviews with the commander, and any other staff he wanted to assign, to practise more in-depth interaction with media. And the grim reality of it, Mr. Selkirk said, is that it also gave them “the opportunity to practise casualties, which… that whole business of standing up there and….”

A large part of making exercises work is co-ordinating every event, both within the various training cells and among all the training cells. For the Media cell, that was an almost 24/7 job because, to provide valid, realistic training, the media products the cell provided every day had to reflect everything going on in every part of the exercise. “That’s what I do,” Mr. Selkirk said. “I co-ordinate everything we’re doing with the guys who are co-ordinating the other cells involved in exercise control, so we don’t mess it up. And the other people who are co-ordinating their cells – we’ve all got to keep talking the whole time. Communication is vital. Situational awareness is vital. Here, in the training, and over there.”

Sarto Leblanc, Gen Lessard’s head of PA and media in-theatre, served as second-in-command of the Media cell during Ex UNIFIED READY, providing the reality checks.

Afghanistan presents a multi-layered media challenge– NATO and ISAF PAOs, and local coalition PAOs, feeding/working with international media, embeds, and national, regional and local Afghan media.

And the Taliban. In the beginning, Afghan media outlets ran mainly Taliban stories, Mr. Leblanc said. “Now, in the media clips, we are seeing a balanced story. But if you don’t have a story at the end of the day, you still get paid in Canada. Not them; that’s the way it works there. So we have to make sure PAOs know how important it is to always communicate, always have a story.”

All of these unfamiliar problems had to be worked into training exercises because that’s the way it is in Afghanistan.

“Of course,” said Mr. Leblanc, “we are learning a lot in Afghanistan, and during training, that will probably help to change the next serial, to a point where it will all make even more sense for everybody.”

“You know,” Mr. Selkirk said, “we’re sending soldiers off to war better trained in every way than we’ve ever done before. I’m proud to be a part of helping to do that, and I’m also proud as a Canadian that we’re doing the right thing.”

Building an exercise from the top down

Ray Wlasichuk is an exercise developer with Director Land Synthetic Environment. He worked with the CF to build Ex UNIFIED READY from the top down. “We started with the training objectives, and how we could provide training situations that get close to what is happening in-theatre,” he said.

The exercise development team took a period of time, the last week of November and the first week of December, and captured everything that was going on in-theatre at that time. That gave them a fixed series of events into which they built scenarios that accommodated the training objectives.

Then, Life took over. “I have enough experience with training,” Mr. Wlasichuk said, “to know that if we look at three outcomes, they’ll probably take the fourth course of action. We have to be flexible. I made my last adjustment about 15 minutes ago.”

When you have a dedicated structure such as JTFA 5-09 HQ, using intelligence to track what’s going on, with a network surrounding it that is designed to prevent surprises, most things in an exercise that might be a surprise would therefore be unrealistic. “What we’re getting very good at,” Mr. Wlasichuk said, “is putting the indicators out there that something is going to happen and, if they don’t react, don’t pick it up, and are surprised, then we let it happen. That’s training.”

Mr. Wlasichuk’s daughter has deployed to Afghanistan, as have the daughters and sons of many of the people he works with. “Their hearts are in this for very good reasons,” he said. “One gentleman [on the exercise] lost his son in Afghanistan, in a roadside bombing. So, this means a lot to us, what we’re doing.”

‘Theatre management’ cell gets final tune-up

During Ex UNIFIED READY, Lieutenant-Colonel Scott McKenzie played the role of Chief National Coordination. That is also his job within the HQ that will deploy in February.

The group that will deploy with him used to be called the National Command Element. “We’re training in theatre management, we call it,” LCol McKenzie said, “but it’s things to do with Canada – everything from HLTA [home leave travel assistance] to bringing equipment into theatre to tracking the budgets.

“They give us problems for which a policy generally exists—a Canadian citizen who’s in trouble in Afghanistan and needs to go back to Canada; a complicated human resource question; accusations of fraud in the cashier— and that forces us to try to apply the policy and seek information for what the policy doesn’t cover.”

The group trained in co-ordinating across JTFA 5-09 HQ—with the commander, the legal advisors, the PAO— and in dealing with its counterparts at Regional Command (South), and with other players such as the British base commander at Kandahar Airfield, and British and Dutch Forces. “We deal with lending and borrowing equipment, helping them out and them helping us, the sharing of monies for joint projects – infrastructure or anything like that.”

Because the HQ is so close to deploying, while most of LCol McKenzie’s group were servicing the exercise, a cadre of primarily orderly room staff was back in Edmonton, doing the real-world pre-deployment stuff. For them, training was already over.

“[Afghanistan] is an evolving theatre, but we’ve developed training that updates itself – the things we’re talking about here were verified procedure-wise in December,” LCol McKenzie said. “The level and detail of training I’m getting now compared to what I got [in 2006] is several orders of magnitude better, more complex, more specific to the mission. I feel better prepared for this operation.”

Neither sand nor heat…

Master Corporal Dwain Bergeron, acting CP sergeant for the purposes of Ex UNIFIED READY, and the 10 personnel under his command are ready to deploy in February.

In theatre, the section’s job is to ensure that all the personnel in the CP get what they need in order to carry on with their mission.

MCpl Bergeron feels they handled what the exercise threw at them. “This is the final phase of training before we deploy,” he said, “and the most challenging part now is making sure that we know exactly what we have to do when we get there so that it’s an easy and seamless takeover.”

It’s a matter of keeping systems running and making sure that everyone’s got access. That will be the biggest challenge, he said, making sure that the systems are running at all times.

“When we get into the hotter months, when it’s going to be 50°C,” MCpl Bergeron said, “systems just don’t like that kind of weather, so you have to stay on top of things.

“The training has definitely been a big help to prepare us to go over. It’s a good final confirmation that we’re ready.”

‘We’re prepared’

Master Warrant Officer Gail Sullivan, with J3 Technical Assistance Visits Coord, is one of three people who, come February, will be responsible for VIP visits intheatre in Kandahar Province.

“We co-ordinate the visit,” she said, “get them in, set up an itinerary, make sure that the commander is aware of who’s on the ground, and why, and make sure that the briefings are set up.”

MWO Sullivan, a reservist who was in the Regular Force for 26 years, has not served in Afghanistan before. “We’ll just take over where they leave off,” she said. “What’s on their plate when we get there is on our plate after the handover. And we’re very fortunate to have Major Bob Hackett deploying. He’s been there, and done visits there.”

So far during Ex UNIFIED READY, her cell has been ready for and able to react to anything the training has presented them. “We’re prepared,” MWO Sullivan said. “But they’ve been doing a good job of keeping us busy.

“We’re all very anxious to go, to get there and start doing our jobs.”

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Students recreate history, honour veterans
From The Maple Leaf

Students from Fletcher's Meadow Secondary School created a video documentary about veterans, war and remembrance, and involved local veterans in the project. Along the way, the meaning of Remembrance Day changed for Seema Jawahir, who did voice-overs for three mini-stories. “Seeing the veterans and hearing their stories made it more real to me and more valuable to remember.”

The documentary premiered November 6 for veterans and staff at the Brampton/Mississauga/Windsor district office of Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC). “The DVD is phenomenal,” says Melanie Casey, manager of administrative services at the office. “The showing was great. Some of the veterans were in tears, and they were all so proud of the students. We’re all proud of them.

Fletcher's Meadow activities often have a crosscurricula focus, so students from various departments were involved – drama, music, art, marketing and more.

“I hadn’t seen or heard any performances by my peers,” said Renuka Boochoon, who researched how women contributed to the war effort. “That’s what brought me to tears during the presentation. The words made me realize how privileged I am to have so much freedom, and that those same heroes were sitting in the same room with me.”

Students researched and confirmed historical information, gathered stills and film footage, did voice-overs, laid down a soundtrack, created posters and more.

“I contributed a bit of music, on the trombone, and some voice work,” said student Gideon Boateng. “What I enjoyed about the project was being able to talk to the veterans, because I never really met a person who actually participated in the World Wars.”

The documentary reminds everyone that Remembrance Day is about acknowledging the contributions and sacrifices of all veterans. “Now I realize,” says Ilapreet Toor, who, with a friend, wrote and performed a voice-over, “that [Remembrance Day] is also thanking all of the men and women who are fighting at this very second for us or others, so that they, too, can live in a much better world.”

As part of the project, students, faculty and staff at the school compiled a list of all the members of their families who have fought in wars, and the list was read as a roll call on Remembrance Day. Tritisha Pitters, who wrote a poem entitled “I Remember”, gained insight into the life of a family member. “From my understanding, my great uncle was a pilot – I think in World War 2. This project helped me to remember the sacrifices people made for me, and my great uncle’s journey.”

Everyone involved agrees on one thing – our veterans made a difference when they served, and are still making a difference by sharing their stories. Kelsey Bell, who worked on the voice-overs, met and talked with veterans for the first time. “Hearing their stories was something that will stay with me for a long time.”

Tim Miller, the project’s primary faculty advisor, gives credit where it’s due. “The students did the work. They involved Second World War veterans for their input. The music department, marketing – there’s a lot of heart, thought and hard work in this.”

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Review: Three to a loaf: A novel of the Great War
From The Maple Leaf

The best thing, the most important thing, about Three to a loaf: A novel of the Great War, is its style. It welcomes and engages you instantly – no $50 words, no pretention. You’ve dropped in for a quick visit with that great-uncle who always has at least one interesting story to tell. Careful, though; that afternoon visit will overtake dinner before you know it.

For a book about the First World War, this is an important quality. Today’s landscape of conflict is varied and intense enough to make 1915 even more remote, and readers who seek military themes can turn to many good books about current campaigns.

Three to a loaf follows Canadian Rory Farrell, son of a wealthy Irish father and an aristocratic German mother, from the campus of McGill University to battlefield Europe. His German roots make him an excellent candidate for service behind enemy lines and, in the twinkling of an astute officer’s eye, he is serving with enemy forces as Oberleutnant Alex Baumann.

The story races along, never faltering. It is battles and mud and espionage and death, but the thread running from beginning to end, giving it all meaning, is not war or patriotism but humanity.

Author Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Goodspeed is a CF infantry officer currently deployed to Afghanistan. He very clearly understands and communicates the differences between the experiences of soldiers serving in the trenches of Europe almost 100 years ago and those of CF personnel engaged in Afghanistan today. “We’ve whittled down the constituent elements of character from what [they] were in 1915,” he says. “Back then, distress disorders were seen as character problems, not medical conditions. Other elements that fall into that category would be social distinctions, the role of individual rights, attitudes to authority, attitudes to sacrifice and death, racial tolerance, the role of women… All of these have changed substantially over the last 90 years…"

However, he as clearly illuminates the traits that soldiers today share with their great-grandparents. “You can’t escape the similarities,” he says. “They remain the same: honesty, fairness, integrity, intelligence, creativity, compassion and courage – both moral and physical. These things really determine the quality of an army and a society, for that matter, and they’re timeless.”

Rory demonstrates all of these, off and on, throughout, as do his fellow combatants – Canadian, British, French and German. He is also, to some degree, a fatalist. He understands that, often, what will be, will be. Life in the early 1900s was not watched on screens or played in virtual venues. It was lived, and a great part of that living involved dying – of childhood diseases we’ve almost forgotten, of adult diseases whose causes were unknown, of accidents and of lack of medical care for all of these. Fatalism was as much a product of life as it was of the world’s religions as they were in the early 1900s, and this trait, more than most others, makes Rory a very believable character.

Something else the author does very well is dialogue, one of the most difficult skills a writer must master. Although the language his characters speak is slightly more formal (and certainly more coherent) than today’s English, the dialogue is clean and tight and very natural.

Three to a loaf: A novel of the Great War is a very readable book. Whether you’re a military history buff or a student of the human psyche, you’ll come away entertained, educated and satisfied.

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Scottish town honours Canadian sapper
From The Maple Leaf

The Loch Laggan area of Scotland, near Newtonmore, is known today as the beautiful backdrop of the popular BBC television series “Monarch of the Glen”.

During the Second World War, however, the head of Loch Laggan was the site of a massive engineering project that would connect Loch Laggan and Loch Crunachdan with a hydro-electric tunnel in order to increase electric power to a local British Aluminium smelter works. That plant was an integral part of the network that built the RAF fighters and bombers so critical to the defence of Britain.

Corporal James Hendry, a 29-year-old sapper who died during the project, was honoured August 14 with the unveiling and dedication of a memorial cairn in Kinlochlaggan, near the tunnel at the head of Loch Laggan. Alasdair MacRae, 83, a Scottish veteran of the tunnel project, spearheaded the two-year campaign to have the cairn erected.

In June 1941, Sapper Hendry, a former mining engineer born in Falkirk, Scotland, and raised in Geraldton, Ont., was serving with No 1 Tunnelling Company, Royal Canadian Engineers. His unit was the one responsible for drilling the small-railwaytunnel- sized hydro-electric tunnel. In the late afternoon of June 13, a fire broke out on the drilling site. Spr Hendry tried to quell the blaze as it spread toward a powder house of stored high explosive, and raised the alarm to warn other workers—among them Alasdair MacRae— to take cover.

The explosion killed Cpl Hendry and Sapper John Stewart, 28, and injured seven others. Had Cpl Hendry not raised the alarm, more men would have died. His courage was recognized two years after his death when he was posthumously awarded the George Cross, Great Britain’s highest award for gallantry in a non-military action.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Martinell, the CF Canadian Military Engineer Branch (CME) exchange officer at the UK Defence Academy, represented the CME at the dedication ceremony. The CME Museum assisted with the provision of some artifacts for a time capsule and the Mapping and Charting Establishment assisted with the crafting of a memorial booklet.

Canada remembers Cpl James Hendry through the naming of the Corporal James Hendry GC Building at the Militia Training Centre in Meaford, Ont.

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Padre Chaim Mendelsohn a perfect fit
From Canadian Forces Personnel Newsletter

OTTAWA—Orthodox Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn is the first Jewish padre to serve with the CF since the Second World War.

His age and his family provide him solid common ground with the CF personnel he’ll be counseling – at 27, and the married father of two young children, the CF’s newest padre is a perfect fit.

"I think so,” Padre Mendelsohn says, laughing. “It’s wonderful. I deal with the same issues as they do. When people turn to a rabbi, or a spiritual leader from any spiritual background, it’s always the same challenge, and I hope being young and active in my community will make me a more effective spiritual guide for them. After meeting my unit and speaking to them as a group, I was able to listen and respond to them. It made me feel good, and it made me wish I could have the opportunity to do this full time. I admire these people so much.”

Padre Mendelsohn will serve as chaplain, with the rank of captain, to 28 Field Ambulance, an Ottawa unit providing health support services to local members of the Reserve Force.

In civilian life, Rabbi Mendelsohn is the leader of Chabad of Centrepointe in Ottawa and Chabad’s Canadian representative on Parliament Hill. While Judaism is what inspires him and directs his life, he joined the CF as a spiritual leader, a moral compass and an ethical guide for the CF personnel he will be working with.

“I'm not looking to bring them Judaism,” he says, “but I am looking to bring an added richness to their lives. I'm looking to be there for them in their times of need. It will definitely be a challenge, but one I'm looking forward to.”

While he acknowledges there are very few Jews serving in the Forces right now, Padre Mendelsohn feels that may change as a result of his decision to join the CF chaplaincy.

“In the 1940s, there were many Jewish chaplains because there were many Jewish soldiers,” he says. “So when it was warranted, the military provided [Jewish chaplains]. I want to build a team of rabbis to serve all across Canada as chaplains. As rabbis join the military, I think there’ll be more Jewish soldiers joining.”

After meeting with his unit’s higher-ranking officers, he was surprised by how much they care about their troops. And with assurances from the CF leadership that everything will be done to allow him to serve and observe as an Orthodox Jew, Padre Mendelsohn feels his addition to the Forces shows the CF is serious about welcoming people from every part of the Canadian fabric, and about being sensitive to their ethical, moral and religious needs.

“To have a chaplain representing the few [Jewish] soldiers,” he says, “is something that expresses the sensitivity that the decision-makers in the military have for each and every soldier.”

The padre’s first weeks in have been hectic and exciting; being the first Jewish chaplain in more than 60 years has meant a lot of interviews and photographs. But now that the media hoopla has subsided, the padre is simply “…looking forward to having meaningful relationships with members of my unit for many years to come.”

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Op CONNECTION
From Canadian Forces Personnel Newsletter

“Recruiting is everybody's business. I expect every sailor, soldier, airman and airwoman to recognize their role as a potential CF recruiter...”
—General Rick Hillier, Chief of the Defence Staff

Canadians are (justifiably) proud of their Canadian Forces (CF), and that pride is front and center at every public event and ceremony you’re involved with. Canadians are forever reaching out to make contact with you – they stand in long lines whenever there’s a Coyote to climb on or a Snowbird pilot’s hand to shake or a ship to tour; they ignore November’s chill to attend Remembrance Day ceremonies; they send Christmas greetings and packages to you when you’re serving overseas.

However, there are many Canadians out there who have few if any chances to meet you, to get a feel for what you do, or to ask the hundreds of questions Canadians ask when they do have the opportunity.

While CF Recruiting Group will continue to be the core agency for attraction and recruiting, ADM(HR-Mil) will lead the Operation CONNECTION initiative, providing environmental commands and operational com-manders with the tools, information and inspiration to make that connection and attract applicants to the Forces. And, ultimately, this all filters down to you. You are a key element of the operation, on two levels.

We need you to contribute in any way you can to the CF presence at the hundreds of events and activities we’ll be participating in as the year progresses. You’ve already been instrumental in bringing the CF to community events nationwide – the Powell River Career Fair in B.C.; the Bon Soo Winter Festival in Sault Ste Marie, Ont.; the Canadian Engineering Competition in Montréal; the World Pond Hockey Tournament in New Brunswick; the Marine Institute Career Fair in St. John’s. And we’ll be looking for your support for upcoming events throughout Canada – festivals, ship tours, school visits, vehicle displays, employment fairs, air shows, sporting events… Find out what events are planned in your area and let your unit commander know which you’ll support.

As well, ask your unit commander about the senior leaders briefing packages prepared by CF Recruiting Group for Op CONNECTION. More than 350 packages with accompanying video presentation and speaking notes have been sent to senior leaders across the country. This resource should be helpful in your recruiting efforts and provide answers to questions most frequently asked by Canadians interested in joining the CF.

To connect with all Canadians, the CF has to be present at events throughout the country, and the CF is you. With your help and support, the “connecting with Canadians” blanket can be stretched to cover the country.

We also need you to provide the best possible representation of the CF – yourself. Wearing your uniform to work is good; wearing your uniform to work on the bus is great. Tell people what you do for a living, and that you enjoy it, and that it’s exciting and challenging and rewarding. Make it apparent that you’re willing to answer questions. Familiarize yourself with the local recruiting centre and with key defence websites so you can answer questions accurately or point the questioner in the right direction for information. Telephone your children’s schools or your grandmother’s seniors’ residence and ask if you and/or your unit could be of help planning a Canadian Forces Day event or setting up a Remembrance Day program or arranging a tour of a local military museum. If the answer is yes, talk to your unit commander about it and involve other members of your unit.

And if you’re a civilian defence worker, all this goes for you, too – minus the uniform.

The goal of Op CONNECTION is to fill recruiting centres with viable applicants. Along the way, however, the possibilities for connection are limitless, and the benefits of those connections will extend far beyond recruiting centres.

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Component Transfer process easier, faster
From Canadian Forces Personnel Newsletter

Component Transfer (CT)—the moving of CF personnel from one component to another (Primary Reserve to Regular Force, for example)—is a win-win process that has been streamlined thanks to a policy announced July 29.

All Regular and Reserve Force personnel are members of the CF. The new CT policy strengthens this equitable membership by reducing CT processing times and eliminating some of the barriers to transfer no matter which way you are moving – from Reserve to Regular Force or vice versa. Successful force generation depends on retaining people who are already valuable members of the Forces, and a more efficient CT process will enable the CF to make the best and most economical use of human resources while encouraging military careers that accommodate the fluid demands of life.

“The Canadian Forces serve and represent all Canadians,” says Chief of the Defence Staff General Rick Hillier. “We must have policies in place that will allow the broadest range of Canadians to find a flexible Forces in which to serve. By simplifying movement between the Regular and Reserve Forces, we make sure our men and women can do their jobs to the best of their abilities and still contribute to and enjoy satisfying family lives. That’s one of the reasons we do what we do – we work to safeguard the home front while, hopefully, spreading some Canadian values around the world, not just through our work but by example.”

If you are starting your family, for example, you might decide to transfer from the Regular Force to the Reserve Force so you can spend more time at home with less likelihood of being deployed. When your little ones are heading off to school, you might then transfer back to the Regular Force. Everyone wins—your children, your spouse/partner and you—and the Forces still have you as a member. You can feel positive about the meshing of your personal life and career, and your valuable military experience and training will continue to meet service requirements rather than be lost to a civilian workplace.

Young Canadians who join the Reserve Force during high school or university for part-time employment and experience can transfer to the Regular Force when they graduate. They can augment their civilian education with the type of specialist training the Forces has to offer, or try a new type of work altogether, and the CF acquires Regular Force personnel who bring Reserve Force training and experience with them when they transfer. Again, everyone wins.

Being able to offer both potential and serving Reserve Force personnel the option of a smooth transfer to the Regular Force should they want it is a plus. People join the Reserve Force for many reasons, and as their circumstances change, so might their desire to contribute to the Forces. People like to have choices, and a flexible environment in which to make those choices. The new CT policy fosters that kind of environment.

“Our people are our strength,” says Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Military) Vice-Admiral Greg Jarvis. “The streamlined Component Transfer process responds to the expectations and needs of our personnel while advancing the operational capability of the CF, and very ably reflects the ongoing evolution of HR focus and initiatives within the Forces.”

The new policy also encourages enhanced recognition of relevant military and civilian work experience coupled with reduced reliance on military training history, making work experience the key factor of a fair basis of comparison between components. This shift from training to experience more accurately reflects the tenor of the civilian work world, and will support and help retain CF personnel who might otherwise opt for release.

Other highlights of the policy include:

  • A definition of “skilled applicant” – an applicant who has completed Basic MOC qualification and has a total of 36 months of full-time experience;
  • No physical fitness test for those of you who have demonstrated successful completion of the CF EXPRES test or the Land Force Command Physical Fitness Test within the 12-month period prior to CT application (or 24-month period if exempted;
  • No Enhanced Reliability Check if you have a current reliability clearance or security clearance to the level required for your occupation; and
  • No medical examination for if you are younger than 37 and have had a CF medical within the last five years.

Members of the Regular and Reserve Forces already enjoy a sense of camaraderie, and shared expertise and goals, that transcend those found in most workplaces. Streamlined CT policy will forge even stronger bonds, creating a seamless environment within which all of you can move efficiently and contribute on an equitable footing.

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Planned DND-VAC changes address 21st-century needs, support traditional services
From Canadian Forces Personnel Newsletter

The federal government has announced its intent to launch a comprehensive reform of veterans' services and programs aimed at the problems encountered by today's CF members and their families as they make the transition from military to civilian life.

The Minister of National Defence and the Minister of Veterans Affairs have emphasized the government's determination to meet the needs of today's releasing CF members while maintaining its long-standing commitment to veterans of the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War, the Cold War, and beyond.

The development of this "Modern-Day Veterans' Charter" will begin immediately, focussing on five areas of reform including:

  • disability awards and wellness programs to replace today's pension system for new applicants;
  • physical and psychological rehabilitation services, including vocational training and education;
  • earnings loss support for veterans undergoing rehabilitation, as well as longer-term income support for veterans who can no longer work because of a service-related illness or injury;
  • job placement assistance; and
  • a health care benefits plan for veterans and their families.

The ongoing consultation process involves government and key stakeholder groups, and includes veterans' associations.

Click on "Minister's Reports" under "The Minister" at www.forces.gc.ca for relevant documents such as Care of Injured Personnel and Their Families Review and A Study of the Treatment of Members Released from the CF on Medical Grounds.

To better satisfy the evolving needs of CF veterans and their families, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) has established a Service & Program Modernization Task Force to research, develop and implement amendments to the current structure of its programs and services.

Visit www.vac-acc.gc.ca for complete information about VAC services and programs.

DND provides releasing members vital services

Today, the average age of a releasing CF member is 39 – an age when Canadians normally expect to have a productive and rewarding career ahead of them. Releasing CF members, however, face a host of challenges directly related to their first career choice, including additional stress within their families as a result of their careers' demands; duty-related physical or emotional disabilities and illnesses; job security that is not on a par with that enjoyed by other public servants; considerable transition issues when returning to civilian life; and more.

DND responds to these needs with many initiatives, the most ambitious being the creation of the Directorate of Quality of Life. DQOL comprises six functional areas: initiatives and monitoring, accommodation policy, family policy, morale and welfare policy, Ready for Release, and research. Department initiatives such as the Depart With Dignity and the Ready for Release programs address releasing members' concerns, and those of their families, and are regularly reviewed and improved.

Visit the Directorate of Quality of Life (DQOL) at www.forces.gc.ca/hr/QOL or at http://hr.ottawa-hull.mil.ca/hr/QOL/ (Intranet users only) for more information about Ready For Release services. To submit an inquiry about a specific or ongoing matter, visit DQOL and click on "QOL Inquiry Form".

Working together, DND and VAC provide services such as The Centre for the Support of Injured Members and Veterans and Their Families. The Centre provides an information and referral service, and support services through a host of initiatives that ensure members, veterans and their families are dealt with in a dignified and respectful manner. These include the Transition Assistance Program (TAP), the Occupational Stress Injury Social Support (OSISS) program, and the Pastoral Outreach Program (POP).

At bases and wings throughout Canada, VAC also provides transition services to ensure timely and professional assistance to releasing and released ill or injured CF members and their families. (See "Transition Interview offers options to releasing members" in this issue.)

Visit The Centre at www.forces.gc.ca/centre or at http://hr.ottawa-hull.mil.ca/centre/ (Intranet users only) for comprehensive information about services and programs available to injured CF members and veterans.

Contact your Release Section for general information about release policy and procedures.

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'Throughout your career, the file grows'
From Canadian Forces Personnel Newsletter

In the May 28/03 issue of CFPN, we featured the Assistant Deputy Minister (Human Resources – Military)-driven project reviewing and shedding light on every aspect of the management of CF personnel records. Headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Bertrand Tremblay, Directorate of Military Employment Policy (DMEP) 3, the project touches areas of administration and record keeping across DND/CF including the organization's front-line record keepers, CF Support Units.

CF Support Unit (Ottawa) manages the paperwork on about 5 800 people, "from the Chief of the Defence Staff to the newest Private," says Warrant Officer Bob Hurley, CFSU(O) IC. "From when you first walk into the Recruitment Centre, all your enrolment documentation and the original Terms of Service you sign, birth certificate, education documents – we have it all. And throughout your career, the file grows. Every time you go on a course, every time you're posted, when you get into trouble or when you do something good – all that documentation goes in your pers file."

The amalgamation of the Finance and Administration trades has added another dynamic to record keeping. Currently, DND/CF uses the Human Resources Management System (HRMS) to electronically manage some of those files, but paper records are still necessary.

The introduction of HRMS has increased the workload. A leave pass, for example, used to be entered into the leave record and put in the drawer. Now, it's entered into the leave record and put in the drawer, and also entered into the database. But the extra steps are good steps, WO Hurley says, because the reporting mechanism is now a lot easier and a lot better.

CF members with 20 years' service have a pers file anywhere from four to six centimetres thick. When a member is loaded on a course, for example, a copy of the loading message goes into his or her pers file. When the member completes the course, the course report goes into the pers file, too, and the now-redundant loading message is disposed of. Only careful ongoing vetting by clerks can keep those paper files from doubling or tripling in size.

Guidance with regard to what can be removed from a member's pers file and disposed of, and when and to where, comes in accordance with the Privacy Act and the Access to Information Act.

"For a while, we weren't getting clear direction with regard to what we could take off, so we haven't taken anything off for a few years," WO Hurley says. "But the policy has recently been clarified, so we're going to start this fall to remove the redundant and no-longer-required papers.

"We don't handle retired personnel; we handle only 'live' files, so we don't have to send files off to the National Archives."

Currently—from July 1998 to the present—paper files go to Directorate Military Careers and Resource Management (DMCARM) where they are scanned into the Personnel Electronic Records Management Information System (PERMIS) and then destroyed. PERMIS is the Protected "B" Total Archival System wherein all documents are stored as non-modifiable images. Paper records from before July 1998 are held by National Archives, as are (and will be) all retired members' pers records.

CF members can obtain informal access to their records at their Support Units, or formal access under the Privacy Act.

"Normally," says Lt(N) Dan Bouchard, CFSU(O)'s Personnel Support Officer, "CF members request informal access to their pers file through their Chain of Command. They can then review the file with their respective supervisor."

Recruits are now being processed electronically under the Prospect Applicant Electronic Records System (PAERS), a sub-system of PERMIS. CF Recruitment Centres are using PAERS, but their electronic records must also be on paper because the necessary software hasn't yet made its way across the department.

Not far down the road, department-wide implementation of PERMIS will allow Support Units and other authorized users to scan and enter documents on-site, virtually eliminating the need for paper records.

"We're looking forward to PERMIS," Lt(N) Bouchard says. "Since we are located in Ottawa, we could be the trial unit. Once PERMIS is instituted, it will ease Resource Management Support Clerk duties by allowing for multitasking without leaving the computer. We won't always need hard copy files to administer our members because the information will be readily available on the database. It's going to be a very good thing."

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Divers expand techniques, hone skills
From The Maple Leaf

They do talk like Donald Duck... if anyone were listening.

Personnel from Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic (FDU(A)) used the Canadian Underwater Mine-countermeasures Apparatus (CUMA) in an Allied Deep Mine-countermeasures (MCM) diving exercise in Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, in September. CUMA allows divers to operate safely to 80 metres by adapting to the depth of the water and providing the optimum helium/oxygen gas mixture.

"Yes, you get the Donald Duck voice," said Diving Research and Development Group head David Eaton. "But we generally don't have voice communication with the divers, and the way the apparatus mixes the gas, by the time divers are back near the surface they're breathing almost 100 percent oxygen."

The CUMA diving set offers the capabilities of surfacing with reduced risk of decompression illness and diving again after only six hours, a dramatic reduction from the traditional 18 hours. It's a closed circuit re-breather system producing few bubbles, making it very quiet, and, by virtue of the material used in the apparatus, it's non-magnetic, making it ideal for mine-countermeasures ops wherein divers locate and defuse or destroy anti-ship mines that may be noise-sensitive or respond to magnetic fields.

"It's all about reduction, really" said Mr. Eaton. "We reduced the amount of gas needed, the noise, the magnetic signature and the risk of decompression illness. And we reduced the time interval between dives."

The September exercise allowed Canadian and Norwegian divers, and those from host countries Belgium and The Netherlands, to participate in a variety of scenarios designed to test divers and equipment and compare ops and safety procedures. Divers from Finland and Sweden participated as observers.

Exercise scenarios included mine-countermeasures and drug interdiction, also applicable to diving units. Divers can be called upon to retrieve items thrown overboard from stopped vessels, and exercise scenarios involved participants diving on and retrieving bottomed articles.

The eight members of FDU(A) donned ultra thin wetsuits for this exercise; Canadian standards normally call for thick, fleece-lined drysuits.

"The lightweight wetsuits do provide a lot more mobility and flexibility," said Mine Warfare Co-ordinator Chief Petty Officer, 2nd Class Rod Goodwin. "And they're more comfortable in the warmer water. What we normally use is designed for colder water, but these are good for places like East Timor, for example, where we might dive."

FDU(A) personnel exchanged notes and procedures with other countries' divers with regard to deep-dive safety measures. The Canadian standard calls for solo diving below a certain depth—one diver, one lifeline—to avoid tangling of lines where visibility is poor, while others advocate the buddy system.

"Both methods have their pros and cons, depending on the situation," CPO 2 Goodwin said. "We're looking at the Norwegian system of two lifelines and they're looking at our procedures. But that's what these exercises are for. We exchange information and come away with ideas."

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The 'Cadillacs' of the fleet
From The Maple Leaf

Gyro re-transmission unit. Transistor amplifier. The "egg box" system.

These innovations, though sounding in 2000 as if taken from the pages of a Rocketman serial, were just some of the Canadian-designed components that made the St. Laurent class of warships prototypes in design for navies around the world.

HMCS FRAZER (2nd), now decommissioned, is the last of the St. Laurent-class ships. Heritage Minister Sheila Copps, representing the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, will unveil a St. Laurent class commemorative plaque May 6 on the Bridgewater, N. S., waterfront where FRAZER is berthed.

Seven St. Laurent-class anti-submarine escort vessels were designed and built in Canada under a program launched in 1948. The ships bore the names of Canadian rivers, and also perpetuated the names of RCN vessels that served in the Second World War. Their design reflected both lessons learned during the Second World War and the tenor of their time.

They incorporated a flush upper deck and rounded deck edges to facilitate de-icing at sea and decontamination of nuclear fallout. A streamlined hull allowed speeds of up to 18 knots in any sea condition. The St. Laurent-class vessels became known as the "Cadillacs" of the RCN because of their speed and ample accommodations.

The hull design adopted an "egg box" system, allowing units to be pre-assembled. The resulting compartmentalized steel hull was strong and flexible; the St. Laurent-class ships experienced few hull failures. The "egg box" design also allowed crew quarters to be sealed against nuclear or chemical contamination. The main hull design was retained for later classes of destroyer escorts.

The Canadian-designed technological components of the ships included synchro tape gyro repeaters and plotting tables, used to track targets. Transistor amplifiers were incorporated – not only the first piece of transistorized equipment in the RCN, but probably the first such equipment used by any navy of the time. Subsequently, the system was produced for the United States Navy.

The seven vessels were later refitted to carry a CH-124 Sea King helicopter in an enclosed hangar. As the new Patrol Frigates entered service in the 1990s, the last of the St. Laurent-class warships were decommissioned.

HMCS FRASER (2nd), now owned by the Artificial Reef Society of Nova Scotia, is the cornerstone of the Bridgewater, N. S., waterfront. The society's Mr. Rick Welsford is optimistic that the official recognition of the St. Laurent-class vessels will benefit FRASER.

"Job one for us is rebuilding and maintenance," he said. "It's an ongoing project. We're a non-profit group, and other non-profit groups in the area have been getting interested and contributing to the project. Being recognized by the [Historic Sites and Monuments] Board means we'll be included in all their tour literature and information."

Currently, the ship is used for various meetings and civic receptions, and is visited regularly by local groups of sea cadets.

Her forebear, HMS FRASER, had a distinguished career in European waters during the Second World War. She evacuated Free French troops and future Canadian Governor General Lieutenant-Colonel Georges Vanier from France June 21, 1940. Four days later, HMS FRASER was lost when she and British warship HMS CALCUTTA collided in the Bay of Biscay.

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'Those who go down to the sea in ships'
From The Maple Leaf

Battle of the Atlantic Sunday ceremonies in Ottawa saw Navy, Air Force and Merchant Navy veterans march on Parliament Hill in remembrance of lost comrades and a hard-won victory 56 years ago.

Able Seaman (Ret) Thomas Laplante remembers his crossing in escort carrier HMC NABOB, a Royal Navy ship manned by a Canadian crew. "I was 17 years old when I enlisted," he said, "and what I remember is wondering 'What am I doing here?' and being so very homesick. We all asked ourselves that. It was a terrible time, but you had to go. We had to go."

Minister of Industry John Manley inspected the Veterans Contingent and Guard before a crowd of about 500, comprising Canadian and other government representatives, members of veterans groups, military personnel, guests and the public.

RCAF Sergeant (Ret) Carl Snyder, from Enfield, N.S., was in Ottawa for a conference. "I thought I'd better come along," he said. "I guess I'm here representing members of my Legion branch."

The ceremony was held on Parliament Hill because work is being done at the National War Memorial in preparation for the new Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Cenotaph was temporary, but the sense of loss felt by Battle of the Atlantic veterans is permanent.

A reading of the RCN, RCAF and Merchant Navy losses during the Battle of the Atlantic was delivered to a hushed crowd, and many quietly joined in saying the Naval Prayer and the Naval Psalm, which begins "Those who go down to the sea in ships, those who ply their trade on great waters, they have seen your works, O God..."

A former WREN from Carleton Place, Ont., sat alone in the public seating area. "No, don't use my name," she said. "I just come every year because I remember so many fine people who were lost. In some ways, you hated to make new friends because you knew they might be lost. It seemed like it would never end."

Led by the Colour Party, Battle of the Atlantic veterans marched around Parliament Hill's east driveway. Some were visibly tired after standing for more than an hour in near 30°C humidity, but as they approached the reviewing stand and the crowd once again broke into applause, their backs straightened, their feet lifted smartly and young heroes looked out of their eyes.

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Canucks' Macedonian mission accomplished
From The Ottawa Sun

Canadian Armed Forces engineers arrived in Trenton Monday from the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia.

Their three-month mission was to prepare the Army base at Kumanovo for the evacuation of OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) observer force personnel should the situation in Kosovo worsen.

"It was the most challenging thing I've done in my military career," said Lieut. Chris Brown, adding the unit accomplished something else at Kumanovo. "We established a good rapport with other nations' forces," he said. "You could tell that by all the going-away parties and good wishes they had for us."

The returning squadron left behind a ready-for-action communications section, hospital, and two barrack blocks.

"There were problems with materiel delivery, and the parts we got weren't what we were used to," Brown said. "It took a lot of ingenuity on the part of our tradesmen."

Lt.-Col. Serge Duplain, who is still at Kumanovo with more than 20 engineers, medical staff and military police, said the mission was very successful. "It wasn't easy for them," he said, "but they did their job and they're home safely."

Duplain and his personnel may be home by the middle of June, but "we'll have to adjust according to the situation," he said. "Things are quiet here right now, and we're being taken care of safely."

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Still playing: Nightmare on Elgin St.
From The Ottawa Sun

Downtown merchants are bracing for another season of traffic tie-ups as the region launches its Elgin St. revitalization project.

Elgin St. northbound between the courthouse and Confederation Square is down to one lane while sewer work is done on the east side of Elgin. And when that's done, work on the west side will begin.

RMOC deputy commissioner of transportation Doug Brousseau expects only the normal tie-ups through the summer. "Drivers will probably look to Metcalfe or Bronson as alternatives. People are very resilient. They'll definitely find a way."

Ottawa Hydro workers have been putting in feeder lines and reconfiguring traffic signals along Elgin.

Last summer, Elgin at Confederation Square was a bottleneck where traffic flow changed weekly as work was done on Plaza Bridge over the Rideau Canal. That and the Elgin St. work are slated to be finished in December, in time for millennium celebrations.

In Laurier Boutique, at the corner of Elgin and Queen Streets, co-owner Lucien Cousineau expects another summer of construction. "Our customers telephone ahead now," he said. "They ask if there's parking, if there's a place to walk. It's dusty and noisy, and it never seems to end."

The Elgin St. project will cost about $4.8 million. The region and the National Capital Commission will share that cost, with the region doing the infrastructure work and the NCC dressing it up afterwards.

National Arts Centre spokesperson Kelly Ann Beaton said it's going to be a challenge, "not just for us, but for all the institutions and businesses along Elgin."

The NAC is working closely with the region to ensure minimal disruption to its patrons, she said, but the biggest challenge will be disruption to parking. "We'll hold shows if we see things are running late," she said, "but everyone's going to need patience, and our patrons should come early for parking over the summer."

Sam Saikali, vice-president of Al's Steakhouse on Elgin, said business may slow down until people get used to the construction, but "it's essential work. There's nothing you can do about it."

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Experts keep weather-eye on flood threat
From The Ottawa Sun

March came in like a lion, but it may go out by boat.

There is a threat of serious flooding for municipalities along the Mississippi, Clyde, Indian, Carp and Rideau rivers. It all hinges on the amount of melting and rainfall the area gets in the next week.

Area lake-water levels are at or near normal now, said Mississippi Conservation Authority water management supervisor Gord Mountenay, but snow-cover water content is about 175 ml, the highest level in 20 years.

Rideau Valley Conservation Authority water resource technician Patrick Larson said temperatures hovering around freezing change the quality of the snow-pack without really melting it. "We have measured relatively high amounts of snow-cover water content," he said. And, because there is more snow on the ground, Larson said, a quick thaw will result in worse flooding problems than last spring.

But with predictions of cloud cover for today and tomorrow, and a forecast of flurries for Sunday and Monday with an average temperature of -2°C, there is no imminent danger of a rapid thaw.

Last March, the average area temperature for the month was 3.5°C and rainfall totalled 84.5 ml. Both Environment Canada statistics are more than twice the average.

In the wake of January's ice storm, flooding caused extensive damage across Eastern Ontario in 1998, and led to the evacuation of some low-lying rural areas.

March 1999 has brought lower-than-normal temperatures and little rain, but more than twice the normal amount of snow, about 70.4 cm. Many lakes and channels are registering ice-thickness levels above normal, and area conservation authorities agree ice jams may be a problem as well.

"For now, we just have to be aware of the potential problems," Mountenay said, adding municipalities should clear all culverts and roadside blockages, and have emergency supplies on hand.

Parents are urged to remind their children about the dangers of playing on or near waterways.

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Book review:
Jivin' Johnny's Classroom Teacher's Emergency Lesson Plans
From the Canadian Vocational Journal

This book's promotional package opens with "Instant help for the supply teacher, novice or overworked veteran."

Maybe so, but the people who truly benefit from what's between these psychedelic covers are students.

#30 Storyboard: Present a story, procedure or the evolution of something in 8 or 12 cartoon panels...
#45 Relationships: If you and your chosen partner had a hurtful disagreement...
#58 Money: Provide at least 20 reasons why a loaf of bread which once cost 25¢ now costs $1.25. Then explain why a computer that 20 years ago cost $900 now costs only $300...

There are 89 other equally interesting, challenging and valuable lesson suggestions here, ranging from advertising through interviewing skills to inventing.

Jivin' Johnny, a.k.a. John Philips, has been teaching in Ontario for almost 32 years. He failed at university, was booted out of the navy, and fired from a job. He and wife Carol lost a young son.

He describes his teaching approach as "direct-to-life", and says his experiences have given him a "different perspective on what's important versus what are mere educational bookkeeping details."

The lesson suggestions here are grass-roots exercises in vocational education. They may take place exclusively in the classroom, but they're fresh and innovative enough that, with students' imaginations in the mix, the classroom becomes a newspaper office, an embassy, a cartographer's drawing board.

At $21.88, the book's a steal. It's not available in stores yet, but can be ordered on-line at www.jjohnnypress.com.

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Ratified contract will take teaching into the next millennium
From The Algonquin Times

There was an air of jubilation in Woodroffe's faculty dining room Sept. 3, and it had nothing to do with the food.

Ontario Public Service Employees' Union Local 415 members met to discuss their Aug. 28 collective agreement with the Council of Regents, representing Ontario colleges.

"This is the best settlement we could have achieved," said Local 415 president Doug Brandy. "We are very pleased with the negotiations, and with our negotiating team."

If the agreement is ratified Sept. 24, the new contract will remain in effect until Aug. 31, 2001.

Brandy acknowledged that the spectre of a lost semester has been looming over students' heads since early summer.

"What affects students is that there'll be no strike," he said, raising his hand. "And our members will be feeling this high, positive about the year."

"People are very happy with the settlement," echoed nursing faculty member Marlaine Finnegan. "We did not want to go on strike."

Related issues directly affecting students, such as contact hours, remain unchanged, as do workload status and job security for members.

Upon ratification, full-time members will see a salary increase of three percent and a one-time lump-sum payment of $600, and will move up one step in seniority.

Brandy indicated the issue of employment equity is ongoing, with both parties working to eliminate barriers, and said, "I want to make certain that we all understand that both parties are committed to continuing to talk money."

Other changes include employees accumulating full seniority credit during periods of approved reduced workload, increases in insurance coverages, and dependant survivors maintaining insurance coverage with conyinuing monthly policy payments.

OPSEU negotiator Mary Ann White expressed satisfaction with the settlement.

"It's been a very, very difficult round of bargaining," she told members, "and the negotiating team wants to thank you for the strike mandate. Things would have been much more difficult without that."

Brandy asked members to note both OPSEU and Council of Regents offcials signed a request, on the front page of the tentative agreement, that members vote to ratify.

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Book Launch Breakfast
From the Canadian Library Association Conference Newsletter

A lesbian librarian remains 'in the closet', wondering, "...what kinds of backlash would I suffer?"

The Surrey, BC school board moves to ban books depicting gay-parented family life.

A librarian is advised to use headings which are "...neutral, not too positive..." when cataloguing books with gay/lesbian/ bisexual themes.

These are just a few of the many problems/prejudices facing gay, lesbian and bisexual librarians, according to Norman G. Kester, editor of Liberating Minds: The Stories and Professional Lives of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Librarians and their Advocates.

The book comprises stories written by librarians from Canada, the U.S., Germany and New Zealand.

Mr. Kester read excerpts to delegates at yesterday's breakfast—excerpts at once entertaining, thought-provoking and poignant—and talked about day-to-day encounters with the straight world: Canada Customs repeatedly holding up, damaging or turning back material with gay/lesbian/bisexual themes, for example.

He spoke of the roadblocks encountered by all minority groups in the library profession, and indicated that universal cutbacks in budgeting make advocacy of minority rights more challenging than ever.

One excerpt embodied Mr. Kester's message: "Fighting [gay/lesbian/ bisexual] censorship ... is fighting all other forms of censorship."

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