(A version of this article first appeared in Kingston Neighbours Magazine, April, 2023.)
April showers bring … DANDELIONS? Yes. April is the Month of the Military Child and the symbolic flower of military children is the dandelion — resilient, adaptable and ready to put down roots wherever the wind blows them!
Canadian military children have unique strengths, but they also have unique challenges. However, most books about military kids are American and there are key differences. Let’s look at some myths about Canadian military children and some of the few CANADIAN books you can read to learn more.
Myth: There aren’t many military kids in Canada.
Fact: There are at least 81,000 military children across the country.*
Guide To Working With Military Kids by Canadian Forces Morale & Welfare Services — A FREE and comprehensive resource for teachers, counsellors and any adult who works with military kids designed to increase military literacy.
Myth: Most military kids live on bases, attend their own schools and use the military medical system.
Facts: Over 85% of Canadian military families live off-base today and ALL military kids attend the same schools as local civilian children. Canadian military families rely on local healthcare services, meaning with every relocation, they are at the bottom of waitlists for psychological services, primary and specialist care.*
Growing Up In Armyville: Canada’s Military Families During The Afghanistan Mission by Patrizia Albanese & Deborah Harrison — An extensive study of students from Armyville High School (an alias) from 2006 – 2010, including heartrending accounts from the teens themselves. Ages 18+.
Myth: CAF families don’t move around alot.
Facts: There are approximately 15,000 relocations (postings) of CAF families each year; 20% have relocated 4 or more times.*
AWOL by Marla Lesage — This moving graphic novel highlights 11 year-old Leah’s struggles as a Canadian military child: saying good-bye to a best friend, missing her mother who’s away for training, and coping with her father’s undiagnosed PTSD. Ages 8 – 12.
Myth: CAF members aren’t deployed frequently.
Fact: Most CAF members spend at least 25% of their time away from home for training and deployments.*
A Father To Be Proud Of by Sheila Enslev Johnston — This 1997 classic by a CAF veteran, Kingston author and military spouse can be found at many Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs) and public libraries across the country in both English and French. Ages 4 – 8.
We Have Superpowers by Dr. Kari Pries and Kirsten Pries — Written for the 2017 Invictus Games, this heartfelt book comforts children whose parents sustained an operational stress injury (OSI) while working for the CAF. With Ages 4 – 10.
Wounded by Eric Walters — Marcus anxiously awaits his father’s return from Afghanistan, but then struggles with his father’s erratic behaviour in this novel from well-known and prolific Canadian author, Eric Walters. Ages 12+.
Peacekeeper’s Daughter: A Middle East Memoir by Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt — The French-Canadian author recounts her family’s posting to the Middle East in the 1980s in this gripping and tense coming-of-age memoir. Ages 18+.
I recommend all of these titles to better understand the lives of Canadian military children. Often touching and always insightful, they accurately reflect the reality and resilience of our ‘dandelion’ kids.
* All statistics in this article are from Guide To Working With Military Kids by Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.
Leave a Reply