RUSI-VI has a scheduled luncheon meeting on the second Wednesday of the months January to May, and September to November. These meetings are held at:
5 (BC) Field Regiment RCA Officers’ Mess, Room 312
Bay Street Armoury
715 Bay Street, Victoria, BC
The luncheon fee of $25 is payable at the door. The time is 1130 for the 1200 luncheon.
11 March 2020
Topic: River Battles: Canada’s Final Campaign in World War Two Italy
Speaker: Mark Zuehlke (author, books for sale)
The Canadians called it the Promised Land. In late September 1944, the Emilia-Romagna plain before I Canadian Corps stretched to the far horizon—a deceptively wide-open space where the tanks could run free. Throughout British Eighth Army, hopes ran high that once it entered the plain, the Germans could be driven from Italy. As soon as the advance began, however, the plain’s true nature was revealed: the land was criss-crossed by rivers, canals and drainage ditches over which all bridges had been demolished.
With higher command urging haste, the Canadians entered a long and nightmarish series of battles to win crossings over each waterway, whose high banks provided the Germans with perfect defensive positions. Early fall rains caused rivers to spill their banks and transformed the countryside into the worst quagmire the soldiers had ever seen.
More than five months of battle followed, with weeks of hard fighting required to advance from one river to the next. Each month, conditions only worsened, and the casualty rates rose appallingly. As their comrades fell one by one, most soldiers sought merely to survive. Doing that much required every measure of stamina, courage and fighting skill they possessed.
The fifth and final Canadian Battle Series volume set in Italy, The River Battles tells the story of this campaign’s last and hardest months. In riveting detail and with his trademark “you-are-there” style, Mark Zuehlke shines a light on this forgotten chapter of Canada’s World War II experience.
8 Apr 2020
Topic: Oka: A Political Crisis and Its Legacy
Speaker: Dr. Harry Swain (Professor UVic, book for sale)
On July 11, 1990, tension between white and Mohawk people at Oka, just west of Montreal, took a violent turn. At issue was the town’s plan to turn a piece of disputed land in the community of Kanesatake into a golf course. Media footage of rock-throwing white residents and armed, masked Mohawk Warriors facing police across barricades shocked Canadians and galvanized Aboriginal people from coast to coast. In August, Quebec Premier Robert Bourassa called for the Canadian army to step in.
Harry Swain was deputy minister of Indian Affairs throughout the 78-day standoff, and his recreation of events in his book is dramatic and opinionated. In Oka, Swain writes frankly about his own role and offers fascinating profiles of the high-level players on the government’s side — Quebec Native Affairs Minister John Ciaccia, federal Indian Affairs Minister Tom Siddon, Chief of the Defence Staff General John de Chastelain, Premier Robert Bourassa and Prime Minister Brian Mulroney. Swain offers rare insight into the workings of government in a time of crisis, but he also traces what he calls the 200-year tail of history and shows how the Mohawk experience reflects the collision between European and Aboriginal cultures.
Twenty years on, health, social and economic indicators for Aboriginal Canadians are still shameful. The well-funded “Indian industry” is a national disgrace, Swain says, and the Indian Act is in urgent need of replacement. Identifying current flashpoints for Aboriginal land rights across the country, he argues that true reconciliation will not be possible until government commits to meaningful reform.
13 May 2020
Topic: Epidemics in Modern History
Speaker: Professor Mitch Hammond, University of Victoria Although a few months off, this speaker will be able to place our current COVID 19 virus pandemic in the context of other epidemics in Modern History.