Thursday, July 05, 2007

A death in the north

Two stories buzzing through town today - one not so serious, the other obvious very serious.

The less serious one is that the ice is finally breaking up in the bay and vessels are beginning to come in. An ice breaker escorted in a fuel tanker, followed by a cruise ship yesterday. So we had tourists briefly mingling around town yesterday. Granted, I have no idea how they got off the cruise a smaller boat, I guess. But there was still a fair amount of ice around, so I can't imagine that was a pleasant jaunt.

Today saw, what I’m fair sure, are the first two cargo vessels of the year, getting ready to unload sealifty goodness to a waiting populace. I suspect they’re still going to have to wait a bit...the ice is breaking up in the bay, but there is still some lingering close to sure. I can't see the barges being able to operate in it and there's no way an icebreaker can work that close to shore with the tides being what they are.A good high tide and some wind might take of that in the next day or so.

The more serious news is that Canadian media are reporting that one of the soldiers who died in Afghanistan on Wednesday - Cpl. Jordan Anderson, 25 - is from Iqaluit. that obviously generated a pretty big shock in town. But the odd thing is, nobody seemed to know him.

You have to appreciate how odd that is. This is a town of 7,000 people. Everybody is connected somehow. I'm hardly well known in town, but if my car blew up with me in it tomorrow, enough people know me to at least acknowledge that I lived in town. But that no one had even heard of him, let alone know him or his family is downright bizarre.

This CBC story clears things up, however. It seems that while he was born here, it looks like he lived most of his life in the NorthWest Territories. He's the first soldier from the north to die in Afghanistan. What a thing to be known for.

My condolences to his family.

I’ve always been a supporter of the Afghanistan mission despite its unpopularity with most Canadians and the increasing body count. Afghanistan needs help in rebuilding and becoming secure. As one of the leading democracies in the world, I’ve always felt we have a responsibility to try and help. We should have done more in Rwanda and didn’t. That inaction cost millions of lives. Thoughts like that haunt me when I hear talk of leaving Afghanistan. How many women and children will be slaughtered if NATO leaves?

And really, will the world mourn fewer Taliban? That’s cruel and heartless and I try to respect human life when I can. But you get groups like that and you wonder why bother feeling compassion for them when they clearly can’t be bothered feeling the same.

And unlike the colossal clusterfuck that is Iraq, I’ve always felt Afghanistan can be saved. Na├»ve and foolish, perhaps. But with the right work, effort and resources something akin to stability could happen.

But you get days like Wednesday and you wonder how much longer Canada is going to be over there. We’re not used to body counts in this country. Haven’t had them really since Korea. That's a good thing, by the way, not getting use to those kinds of numbers. I think Americans have almost grown numb to the number of dead coming back from Iraq. I doubt that will ever happen with Canada and Afghanistan

We might be there until 2009, but I don’t think we’re going to be there once our commitment is over. And it changes from day to day with me on whether or not that's a good thing.

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