Recently, the Canada Games Centre was occupied by the military.
I object to our recreational facility being used by the military for training purposes. I vehemently object to it being used to train young people to shoot guns, presumably to kill.
Over the last generation, our country has become increasingly militarized. Schoolchildren are instructed to write letters to soldiers thanking them; bumper stickers proclaiming support for troops are common; Remembrance Day has evolved into Veterans’ Week. We seem to be mimicking our neighbours to the south without thinking about the kind of country we want.
Are we aspiring to be a military culture like the United States?
As a society, we agree children should not be exposed to domestic violence. In sport, there is a consensus that aggressive, violent behaviour should be controlled. In schools, there are programs against bullying and rules against fighting.
We conscientiously choose to protect our children from learning that violence is a solution to problems.
However, our community recreation centre seems to have welcomed people dressed in camouflage, a symbol of hiding, deceit, intrigue and war.
The coffee area was taken over by military personnel in heavy marching boots.
A skating arena that was being used by children to practise bicycle skills was converted into a shooting range.
Children using the games centre are now getting the message that the military is a normal part of life, that we should accept their presence, and that learning how to use a gun is good.
If the military must exist, they should do their training on their bases, out of sight. They should not be in public. They should not be influencing children into thinking a military presence is an acceptable part of our lives.
We do not need to extol the military. If we do not want to be a militaristic society with the accompanying undercurrent of fear and violence. We must carefully regulate the presence of soldiers and guns.
They should not be part of everyday life!
I have made my concern known to the administrator of the games centre. As far as I am concerned, people of Whitehorse should not have to dodge soldiers to go for a swim.
Military training should not take place in a facility designed to promote healthy living.