A CAF member returns to his roots on Operation HAMLET

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Article / April 28, 2017

By Ashley Black, Canadian Joint Operations Command Public Affairs

Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members go above and beyond when giving back to the communities where they are deployed. However, not all CAF members get the unique opportunity to deploy and give back to the country where they were born.

Major David Roberge is a Haitian-born CAF member who was adopted by a Quebec family as a young boy. He wanted to deploy to Haiti with Operation HAMLET for quite some time; Major Roberge had previously volunteered in 2010, but he was redirected to Afghanistan. In October 2016, he finally had the opportunity to join Canada’s Task Force Port-au-Prince in Haiti.

During his deployment, he served in the military component of the Electoral Section at MINUSTAH Headquarters in Port-au-Prince. His main task for his deployment was to support local police in the safe and successful electoral process in Haiti.

While in Haiti, Major Roberge went above and beyond his duties to connect with local citizens and with his roots. He made use of his connection to Haiti to understand Haitians’ needs in the electoral process.

“It helps because local citizens tend to be more trusting of people who have the same skin colour or the same culture as them,” he explains. “Even outside of work, it was easier for me to know what was going on or get the sense of what Haitians were feeling because they didn’t see me as an outsider.”

Major Roberge exceeded expectations when he committed his personal time to helping out local citizens. He spearheaded an application to Boomer’s Legacy Fund to help financially support a local orphanage named Foyer Action pour L’Avenir. [b1]  Major Roberge and other CAF members made weekly visits to the orphanage to help out with any projects the orphanage owner was working on.

Major Roberge’s determination to give back to his native country was personal to him.

“I think this opportunity showed me how lucky I was,” he explains. “I was born in this area and I could have grown up in these orphanages. Not everyone was lucky like I was so that’s why I want to help and give back.”

His connection to the deployment was deepened when his family visited him in Haiti. He formed a strong relationship with the orphanage and its owner, so he brought his family to visit. “My family came down to Haiti because my spouse is Haitian,” he says. “We visited the orphanage all together and everyone at the orphanage was happy to meet my family.”

Major Roberge enjoyed the unique experience of deploying to Haiti and offered this advice to fellow Haitian-born CAF members: “I would recommend that other Haitian-born CAF members go to Op HAMLET and help give back to Haiti,” he says. “I am very grateful that I was able to come here. It was a great opportunity to help give me a deeper perspective.”

Major Roberge deployed to Haiti from October 2016 to April 7, 2017. He looks back on his deployment with pride, knowing that he made a difference in his native country.

Operation HAMLET is the CAF’s participation in the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, commonly known by the French acronym MINUSTAH.

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