ACTION ALERT: Stop military recruiting in our schools
November 2, 2007
The Canadian Armed Forces are actively recruiting through their forty-two recruitment centres across the country, their website, at various major public events (such as exhibitions, sports games, etc.), and even at high schools, colleges and universities.
In fact, they have even conducted "outreach" at elementary schools. As reported by CBC.ca on June 15, 2007, "The Canadian Forces have been touring schools in the St. John's area this week, as part of an outreach program." The story reports that a Grade 3 "class at Holy Cross Elementary school (in Holyrood, Newfoundland) were given a first-hand show-and-tell session with a tank and related gear."
Andrew Cash wrote in the May 25, 2006 issue of Toronto's NOW magazine, "In both Toronto's public and Catholic boards, the (military co-op program) pays kids to join the Reserves, gives them four high school credits and trains them in, among other soldiering arts, machine gun shooting and grenade throwing...The crisp military brochures most guidance offices make available to students talk up the career aspects of the military while conveniently ignoring the elephant in the room: the fact that a soldier is trained to kill and die on command. Do we really want a merging of public education and military objectives when it appears we have no national consensus on our new U.S.-inspired war aims."
There has been resistance to recruitment outreach to students:
* The London Free Press reported on October 19, 2007, "One Grade 12 student irked by (a) military event at South secondary school has received permission from administrators to hold a simultaneous anti-war event in another part of the school...He said that earlier this week it looked as if his counter-recruitment event -- he asked the school for permission last week -- wouldn't be allowed..."
* As reported by London Indymedia on February 24, 2007, "the Canadian military has been drastically increasing their presence at Fanshawe (College in London, Ontario)...All year, recruiters have been setting up booths and tables inside our college, convincing us to join the military instead of pursuing our own dreams for which we are in college in the first place." A group of six students who attended a February 13 career fair there to hand out information "as a counterweight to the military recruiter's lies" were told to leave, while one student was arrested.
* And as reported by the student newspaper The Manitoban Online in 2006, "While some Canadian universities remain unconcerned about the militarization of student space, others are more critical. Students at UBC are currently organizing to resist the presence of recruiters. Concordia University in Montreal has a policy banning military recruitment on campus entirely, and the Link, Concordia’s independent student newspaper, includes the Canadian Forces on its advertising boycott list."
If you go to the Canadian Armed Forces recruitment website, you will see that they emphasize "subsidized education" as well as "competitive wages...medical and dental care..." and their pension plan. It also features a "publicity video" and an "Online Chat with a Recruiter" feature.
In turn, ACT for the Earth has launched "Operation Objection (which) is a Canada-wide counter-recruitment campaign to reclaim our educational institutions for peace and the interests of students from those who would co-opt them for war."
If you go to their website, you will find a downloadable war free schools organizing kit, counter-recruitment charts and postcards, and reports and resources. In their 50-page 'War Free Schools: The Rise of the Counter-Recruitment Movement' you will find on page 40 a listing of films that may be helpful for film screenings and discussions. Their 26-page 'War Free Schools: A Handbook for Counter-Recruitment in Canada' on pages 8 to 11 includes a helpful 'Students for Peace: A Guide for Organizing a Counter-Recruitment Campaign' section.
Take action by writing the Minister of Defence Peter MacKay at firstname.lastname@example.org and your provincial or territorial minister of education and demand that military recruiting be banned from Canada's educational institutions. Our schools should be a military-free zone.
I join with the Council of Canadians in calling on you to stop the Canadian Armed Forces from recruitment and outreach activities in Canada's elementary and high schools, universities and colleges. Our children should be learning about peacebuilding, the avoidance of violent conflict, global justice and true security, and not be subject to glamourized and misleading images of the military through publicity videos and brochures. I await your response.
For this one, I think letters are only a place to start if we want to achieve the stated demands.
(From an email from GK.)