Newsletters - Volume 53
Article written by Corporal Candelon and Master Warrant Officer Bastien
On January 12th 2010 a catastrophic earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 hit approximately 25 kms west of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. With no real construction standard, this earthquake collapsed most of the city. It spread the devastation as far out from the epicentre as 60 kms. The official languages of Haiti are French and Creole - French with various other influences. In order to better serve the local population it was determined that French and Creole speakers would be needed to assist the humanitarian aid effort to the local population. The following narrative was written by Cpl Ricardo Candelon, it depicts his experience with the humanitarian assistance while he was attached posted with HMCS ATHABASKAN. On the 14th January HMCS ATHABASKAN departed Halifax for Leogane, Haiti, a town approximately 15 kms southwest of the earthquake’s epicentre.
Cpl Candelon (back row, far right) was attach posted to the ship on the 28th Jan 2010 as a CDSE linguist. An exceptional team player, he displayed a high degree of respect and professionalism when dealing with others. His Haitian background, insight and dedication to the mission directly contributed in providing high quality time-critical I&W to both ATHABASKAN and JTF(H) HQ, which assisted ground commanders with making sound decisions. Cpl Candelon's heightened sense of duty to the mission made him a very valuable member of the CDSE Team and HMCS ATHABASKAN. Here is his story;
“My name is Cpl Ricardo Candelon; I was born in Montréal QC. I joined the military in August 2005 to change my life in hopes of becoming a better person. My family is originally from Haiti however I’ve never been to Haiti before OP Hestia, it was a cultural shock to see how my roots live. I hadn’t seen my mother for approximately 2 and a half years so when I heard about the earthquake in Haiti, I immediately attempted to contact my family but with the dire situation could not get through. I was asked if I would be interested in deploying to assist in the Humanitarian effort. Since I could not contact my family, I knew this would be an opportunity to assist in a much needed operation. With my language skills (French and Creole) I would be able to bridge the gap between the Canadian Humanitarian team and the local population in need of aid. After some logistical coordination, I was finally attached posted to the HMCS ATHABASKAN for OP HESTIA on the 28th January 2010 and flew down to join the ship. Once on board, I assisted with the rest of the ship’s company in the humanitarian effort in the city area of Leogane which is close to where my mother resides. I decided to wait a little while before attempting to contact my mother, in order to focus on my duties and get used to life on board a ship since it was my first time on a ship deployment. One of the locations we assisted was the local orphanage. Working at the orphanage was good; I talked to lots of the kids. While working there I met a 21 year old university student named Pierre who was working at the Canadian Medical Assistance Team (CMAT) as a translator, I ended up giving him my old laptop. While I was on the ship I called my sister back in Montréal to request my mom’s phone number. I called my mother on the 21st of February with my cellular phone and set up a meeting at the CMAT.
On Wed the 24th of February I was given an opportunity to visit with my mother who lives in Petit-Goive which is located about an hour from Leogane, I was able to spend the day with her. I hadn’t seen my mother in a few years, we had a nice day just chatting and catching up. My mother’s house held up, no loss or damage due to the earthquake. She was injured on the right knee (nothing too serious); she was running away and fell down. She had heard from the other local residents that the Canadian Forces have been doing a great job in providing help to Haiti. It was great to see my mom again and know that she is safe and doing well. When I was told I was coming to Haiti for OP HESTIA I didn’t know what sort of things I would see and do. Having a chance to work at the orphanages, and see my mother have made this tour memorable. I would like to thank the staff of HMCS ATHABASKAN who made this possible.”
L to R: MCpl Henwood, LS Gracie, LS Dupuis, PO2 Kenney, MCpl Arsenault and Cpl Candelon