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Warm welcome for DART return to Canada

Members of the Canadian DART team were given an enthusiastic Philippino welcome home by members of the Toronto Philippino community Dec. 19 after their 40-day deployment to the storm-ravaged Philippine Islands. - Photo by Ross Lees

Members of the Canadian DART team were given an enthusiastic Philippino welcome home by members of the Toronto Philippino community Dec. 19 after their 40-day deployment to the storm-ravaged Philippine Islands. – Photo by Ross Lees

By Ross Lees
It was an emotional return for the Canadian Disaster Assistance Relief Team (DART) to CFB Trenton Thursday.

Returning home from the devastated Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, the 88 men and women were greeted enthusiastically by several high ranking members of the Canadian Armed Forces, politicians and a grateful group of Philippine Canadians, one of whom survived Typhoon Haiyan. Some were also welcomed by family thrilled to have them home for Christmas.

All were happy to touch down after the 36-hour flight and 40-day deployment and know they would have the opportunity to spend the holiday season with family and loved ones after witnessing the devastation in the storm-battered Philippines. DART began arriving in the Philippines on Nov. 13.

Welcomed onto the tarmac off the C-17 Globemaster at Trenton by Maj.-Gen. Jim Ferron, Commander Officer of the 1st Canadian Division in Kingston, Lt.-Gen. Marguis Hainse, Commander of the Canadian Army, Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Member of Parliament for Northumberland-Quinte West Rick Norlock, who was filling in for Defence Minister Rob Nicholson, Senator Tobias Enverga, the first Philippino Canadian to be appointed to the Senate, Mayor of Quinte West John Williams and Typhoon Haiyan survivor Michelle Velosa, a Canadian Philippino from Toronto who was near Iloilio visiting her 90-year-old grandmother and family when the typhoon struck.

Arriving in the passenger terminal, the returning Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members were greeted by 55 members of the Toronto Philippino community chanting “Thank you Canada, thank you Prime Minister Harper and thank you DART!” while waving banners, signs and flags.
The welcome was unexpected by the returning military personnel. One woman watched her fellow DART team members arrive with a smile on her face as she listened to the chants and watched the response by the DART team members.
When asked what she thought of the welcome, she summed it up beautifully in one word, “Wonderful!”

Typhoon Haiyan survivor Michelle Velosa, a Canadian Philippino from Toronto who was near Iloilio visiting her 90-year-old grandmother and family when the typhoon struck, shed tears while thanking the DART team for their efforts in her storm-battered country. -Photo by Ross Lees

Typhoon Haiyan survivor Michelle Velosa, a Canadian Philippino from Toronto who was near Iloilio visiting her 90-year-old grandmother and family when the typhoon struck, shed tears while thanking the DART team for their efforts in her storm-battered country. -Photo by Ross Lees

Of all the words of praise as they were welcomed home, the most emotional came from Ms. Velosa.
“My heart is still in the Philippines, but I can’t say enough about your helping hands,” she said to the assembled returning DART team members while fighting back tears. “People were so desperate. We had no food, no water. We slept on the grass. Everything was broken and you helped fix the country. People were desperate. On behalf of my family, I want to say a big thank you to the members of DART.”

Ms. Velosa gave a good snapshot of the horrors faced by the Philippinos and the DART team members coming in to help in the disaster.
“We had no lights, no clothes and we slept on the grass. Everything was broken and blown away. We walked the streets and saw dead and bloated bodies and no body bags,” she said.

Lt.-Gen. Hainse expressed his pride in the response to the crisis by the DART team.
“The Canadian Armed Forces embody Canadian values of generosity and benevolence. Canada has consistently demonstrated time and again strong support for humanitarian assistance throughout the world; this time was no different. Our personnel strive to bring security, stability, support and hope to those who need it. I wish to congratulate our men and women on a job well done.”

MP Rick Norlock said he was happy to see the Canadian military personnel coming home after doing an excellent job in the Philippines.
“I am immensely proud of the hard work our men and women in uniform have done helping the people of the Philippines as they recovered from this devastating disaster. Their professionalism, dedication and skill in the spirit of helping people in need make me proud to call myself their fellow Canadian. Now, with their mission accomplished, I am happy to see them coming home for well-deserved time with their families.”
DART’s list of accomplishments during that 40-day period were impressive.

They had produced approximately 493,346 litres of purified water, they had treated 6,525 medical patients, they had delivered approximately 230,485 pounds of food and 10,325 pounds of shelter and building materials on behalf of non-governmental organizations, they had delivered approximately 59,536 pounds of humanitarian assistance goods on behalf of local authorities, they had cleared 131 km of roads and they had flown 184 CH-146 Griffon sorties.

Canadian DART team members are welcomed back to CFB Trenton by Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and other high ranking military and civilian officials Dec. 19. - Photo by Ross Lees

Canadian DART team members are welcomed back to CFB Trenton by Lt.-Gen. Yvan Blondin, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and other high ranking military and civilian officials Dec. 19. – Photo by Ross Lees

 

Maj.-Gen. Jim Ferron, Commander Officer of the 1st Canadian Division in Kingston, welcomes a member of the Canadian DARTteam home Dec. 19. -Photo by Ross Lees

Maj.-Gen. Jim Ferron, Commander Officer of the 1st Canadian Division in Kingston, welcomes a member of the Canadian DART team home Dec. 19. -Photo by Ross Lees

 

Reunited family - Capt. Doug Godden and his family posed for an impromptu portrait at the passenger terminal after initial welcoming hugs and kisses. He was welcomed home by wife Natalie and daughters Briana and Brooke. - Photo by Ross Lees

Reunited family – Capt. Doug Godden and his family posed for an impromptu portrait at the passenger terminal after initial welcoming hugs and kisses. He was welcomed home by wife Natalie and daughters Briana and Brooke. – Photo by Ross Lees

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