History of the ’90s podcast: Remembering the Somalia Affair

Pte. Elvin Kyle Brown is followed out of the courthouse at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa March 17, 1994 after court adjourned for the day. The session would decide Brown’s fate for his role in the death of a Somali teenager.

On this episode of History of the ’90s, host Kathy Kenzora looks back at the events, court martials and subsequent public inquiry that became known as the Somalia Affair.

In the early 1990s, Somalia was struck by a famine of staggering proportions, which was made worse by the fact that militia leaders were stealing foreign aid that was shipped from other nations.

The Canadian military was part of a UN humanitarian peacekeeping mission to ensure food and medical supplies got to desperate Somalis. Canada’s elite airborne regiment was deployed as part of the mission in December 1992, and within months would become involved in one of Canada’s ugliest moments in history.

20 million people in 4 countries facing starvation, famine: UN
In March 1993, a 16-year-old Somali boy was beaten and tortured to death after he was caught by soldiers sneaking into a military compound. Soldiers took photos posing with Shidane Arone after he had been brutalized for hours.

The same regiment would come under fire two years later, when homemade videos were released to the media which showed airborne commandos making racist remarks and taking part in a disturbing hazing ceremony.

To read more about the report mentioned in this episode, titled, Dishonoured Legacy: The Lessons of the Somalia Affair: Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Deployment of Canadian Forces to Somalia, follow this link.

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