Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

On review:

Gina Whitfield
A Mother's Day gift to Canada's Afghanistan debate

A Mother's Road to Kandahar presents Andria Hill-Lehr's experience of being a military mom who is critical of Canada's role in Afghanistan

... A reservist, her son volunteered to go to Afghanistan, motivated by a genuine desire to change the world and the belief that the military intervention in that country was one with good intentions and peacekeeping in mind. The book gives an intimate account of how the lives of military families are affected when a loved one is shipped off to war...

The recruitment of Garrow to the military started young, with the Cadets, a government subsidized military youth group for children. Hill-Lehr touches briefly on the impact of marketing the military to youth in this country, including how this worked to pique her own son's interest.

The increase in military marketing in Canada has been substantial in recent years, since we became a country at war. You cannot watch a hockey game or movie without seeing the high production value advertisements about "fighting fear, fighting distress and fighting chaos" (isn't "fighting chaos" an oxymoron?) playing on young Canadians' desire to both help the world and experience adventure. Of course, they haven't forgotten about the power of face-to-face recruitment either, as the military has become a ubiquitous presence at every parade and public celebration across the country.

The book's strongest and most engaging element is the unique relationship between a mother and son, both articulate and opinionated, in struggle over Canada's role in Afghanistan.

The bond between them — and the Canadian military — is an emotionally charged one, especially when the son and the army are the only ones seeing eye-to-eye. As a mother, she is determined that the military will not take her child away from her because of their political differences, while showing at the same time that his decision to go to war affects not only his life, but affects all those who love them. Hill-Lehr clearly "supports the troops," and not just because her flesh and blood is one of them. What she objects to are the politicians and politics behind the decision to head to Afghanistan...

Gina Whitfield is a documentary filmmaker living in Vancouver. She holds a M.A. in Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE/University of Toronto. She is also a feminist activist and photographer and in her spare time she writes for (link)

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