Crazy Canucks?
– Michael Douglas

Yay our son has a passion and boo! it makes his mother cringe.

Years ago our mild mannered young boy signed up for karate lessons. 8 years later he’s migrated to Mixed Martial Arts, found himself and a taut new body. Of course we hope he’ll never have to use these fighting skills but working at them has made him into a more complete young man. While at 16 he’s still a project, the discipline of learning self defence has affected how he relates to his world and his parents – much better thank you. His confidence and independence have improved right along with his abilities.

On Saturday night, when I answered an old friend’s question about work, I couldn’t help thinking of our son, because I’m engaged to help promote the idea that responsibility for defending your country is not the just the military’s responsibility. What? Yes, I’m paid to argue there will be a tangible improvement to the character and capability of Canada, when more Canadians care enough to know what it takes to be real global citizens.

Both of the projects I’m working for, echo the confident ‘use it or lose it’ sentiment of the famous ‘Participaction’ fitness campaign, only they’re externally minded. One project is aimed at connecting members of the military family with their communities. ‘Sounds like a tough sell in Canada,’ says an American friend. And he’s right. But I’m sticking to the idea that you can’t both support the military and ignore it. In Canada that means, you can call me crazy.

Our second project takes the view that a great old university program abandoned in ‘Hippie daze’ has value. Certainly the Officers Training Program is overwhelmingly popular at Cambridge University in England and similarly well regarded in Australia and the US. Again I’m certifiable because I believe that Canada’s leaders of tomorrow should have leadership skills. So we’d like to see university courses developed that take advantage of military training, insights and experiences to boost confidence teamwork and leadership skills. With the added benefit that tomorrow’s leaders might then know what they were talking about when they make decisions to send young Canadian troops, either here, there, or nowhere. Freedom isn’t free! Ooops - call me crazy.

I can’t help but connect the wellbeing and improved performance enjoyed by our son and by the young people of Cambridge University and the sense of community enjoyed in London Ontario with their Garrison Community Council. They’re connected because they’re all playing in a new Participaction campaign for greater citizenship. And yes participation in the age of distraction is a tough sell. But growing skills and competencies, connections and confidence amongst young people in particular is so worth the effort. To me. But then I’m certifiable. How ‘bout you?

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British Officer Training Program
British Officer Training Program
General Rick Hillier
"When you're a young airman or airwoman and you're flying at night over the far north during an ice storm in your aircraft;
or you're a sailor and you're in a ship on your fisheries patrol off the east coast of Canada and there's forty foot waves and ice is forming on your ship;
or you're a young soldier patrolling in those dirty, dusty, dangerous trails down in Kandahar and somebody's waiting to shoot at you and kill you
- you can be forgiven for thinking that you're all alone in the world.
And without the visible, active support of Canadains, they will be assured that they are alone. Yet another day, yet another week, yet another month until they do their job for Canada and they get to come home. Without that support, they can't continue to do that. With it they can accomplish anything."

- former Chief of Defense Staff,
General Rick Hillier

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