A Canadian military officer is being treated to Filipino hospitality today for the work he and his team did after the super typhoon that devastated the Philippines last fall.
Maj. Robert Meade is with DART, the Disaster Assistance Response Team, a multidisciplinary military organization that deploy humanitarian missions around the world in response to disasters. In November and December he was deployed to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan.
He and six or seven Canadian Filipino members who have served with DART in the past or are currently serving with the unit were feted at a Canadian Forces Appreciation Night at the Filipino Seniors Group of Winnipeg's hall at 49 Euclid Ave.
"What Canada did in the Philippines to help the people after the Haiyan disaster, it’s a big thing for us," said Aida Champagne, who helped organize the event as chairwoman of the annual Filipino Street Festival.
Champagne said the event is an opportunity for Filipino Canadians to meet people in the military.
"Maj. Meade is the major one but there will be six or seven Canadian Filipinos in the Canadian Forces who have served in DART or are serving in DART. We want to show our appreciation, our support for DART and the DART team. They’re doing a lot of humanitarian efforts," Champagne said.
Meade spent five weeks in the Philippines when the November typhoon left a trail of death and destruction across parts of the Philippines.
"I went as the officer commanding the defence and security of the company so I was part of the humanitarian assistance reconnaissance team," Meade said.
As the head of the security force for the engineering teams, water purification experts and medical workers, Meade said he saw disaster from a unique perspective and worked directly with Philippine military to co-ordinate Canada’s efforts.
DART was stationed in the heart of the disaster but not at Tacloban, where more than three months afterward half the city’s residents remain without power, new reports said today.
DART went to the island of Panay, he said.
"If you look at a map of the Philippines and you could see where the typhoon went, obviously it went from east to west and this was right in the path of the typhoon," Meade said.
"My job was to co-ordinate with the Philippine army in terms of force protection for the Canadians as they went off and did medical, engineer work, clearing roads, reverse osmosis water purification. I partnered up with the armed forces of the Philippines and with the Canadian Armed Forces, we provided that security."
As a humanitarian effort, DART cleared roads, treated the injured and set up countless water purification units, operating on the ground until non-governmental aid agencies could reach the Philippines and take over disaster assistance.
"We did all we could there," Meade said.