A Mother's Road to Kandahar

Book, 2008, 159 pp
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As a mother and grandmother, Andria Hill-Lehr writes about her eldest son's decision to join Cadets, then Reserves, and then to be deployed to Afghanistan in 2006. From the time she learned of his decision, throughout his deployment and after his return home, whether speaking publicly or privately, Hill-Lehr has emphasized that unconditional love and support for her son is not synonymous with support for the political agenda behind Canada's presence in Afghanistan - an idea that is gaining momentum through an organization that Hill-Lehr co-chairs, called Military Communities Speak Out.

The author explains what inspired her to become a peace activist. She reflects on the influence of her mother, a writer who recalled with painful accuracy how she endured the London Blitz, and her father, who was a World War Two veteran and an inspector with Metropolitan Toronto Police. Both raised her to challenge authority which presented some challenges of its own.

Her son's path inspired Hill-Lehr to scrutinize Canada's military culture and the influence of the American armed forces. She writes of her own experience with the military while the spouse of an Armed Forces officer. With clarity and insight, she examines the practices used by Canada's Armed Forces to cultivate children as young as twelve to become future recruitment prospects or loyal supporters of the military through schools, co-op education programs, military displays, advertising and marketing, and video games.

From Cadets to Reserves to Regular Forces, the Canadian government engages in endeavours that are, at times, questionable. The author hopes those who read this book will think critically about the proclaimed virtue of military programs for youth, and that Canadians will challenge the government of Canada's policies, particularly how they determine the deployment of Canadian troops abroad.

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