Recently I made acquaintances with a woman named Nacy who was married to Jean-Yves Dagenais. Jean-Yves is the younger brother of my mother. He was the uncle I don’t think I ever met.
I met my uncle Albert (Al) Dagenais various times while we lived on Canadian Forces Base Shearwater. But I honestly can’t remember meeting Jean-Yves.
One interesting thing that Nancy did mention is that Marie, Nancy, and Jean-Yves drove up from Regina because Marie was in a panic that her children were in danger. It turns out that Marie was still on Prince Edward Island and had been told where Richard had moved to. Marie called up Jean-Yves and borrowed some money to fly from PEI to Regina, and then the three of them drove up to Canadian Forces Base Namao.
Apparently when they arrived the found grandma feeing my brother and I at the kitchen table. We didn’t appear to be in any distress.
I remember this visit. Not too much detail. I sure didn’t remember Nancy or Jean-Yves. I know that I had been told about my mother coming for a visit as I went and waited by the entrance to the PMQs with a flashlight for them to come. I figured that with the flashlight she’d see me better and she wouldn’t drive past.
I remember Marie bitching about the house numbering. And yes, the houses were numbered weird. Or at least weird when compared to the civilian world. In the civilian world the houses tend to be numbered odds on one side and evens on the other. The house numbers also increase typically from the lower cross street to the higher cross street.
This was not how they were numbered on CFB Namao. The houses were numbered sequentially down one side of the street and then sequentially up the other side. This is how our PMQ #11 on 12th street was literally across the street from P.S.’s PMQ #26 on 12th street.
I’ll never figure out who it was that told Marie that we were living on Canadian Forces Base Namao. There were only two people who would have told her. And they’re both dead now. It was either my grandmother, or my uncle Doug. There is no way on Earth that Richard would have ever called Marie.
Grandma was always of the opinion that Marie and Richard should never have separated and that Richard should have swallowed his pride and asked Marie back in.
Doug never really liked Richard. When uncle Doug would come back from the oilfield every six weeks or so, Doug would buy my brother and I toys and other things to Richard’s chagrin.
Most of the xmas present that my brother and I received like our little B&W tvs and the little Coleco rifle games for those TVs were bought by Doug in Marie’s name.
If I was a gambling man I’d have to say that it was Doug and not grandma that called Marie to let her know where Richard had technically kidnapped her children to.
Grandma was too afraid of Richard to have gone behind his back to tell Marie where he had moved to with their kids and without a valid custody order.
Uncle Doug just didn’t seem to give a fuck. Yeah, he wouldn’t outright antagonize Richard, but he would do things that he knew would rub Richard the wrong way.
For example, when I moved back to Edmonton in June of 1990 with Richard “so we could try to be a family again”, it was Doug that introduced me to Marie. It was also Doug that tried to get me to go for my small “m” metis papers.
Small “m” metis papers really don’t amount to too much, other than you can rightfully say that you have First Nations DNA. I think Doug knew this would kill Richard as Richard had spent his entire life pretending that he wasn’t Half Cree and Half Irish.
Nancy said that when Marie, Nancy, and Jean-Yves arrived that my brother and I were sitting at the kitchen table happily eating our breakfast. So I don’t know if Nancy and Jean-Yves came at a later time, but I do know that when Marie arrived I had my father’s military issue flashlight because it was getting dark.
Maybe Marie came up by herself initially and then Nancy and Jean-Yves came up the next morning.
Nancy said that after seeing that my brother and I weren’t in any danger that things became testy between Jean-Yves and Marie.
Nancy would go on to say that because Marie had abandoned my brother and I on Prince Edward Island and left us in the house alone by ourselves Uncle Al was furious with Marie and she didn’t think those two ever spoke again. Probably explains why Marie was never mentioned in Uncle Al’s obituary. And this probably explains why Marie wouldn’t say anything about Al when I went to visit her in 2013 and 2014.
I don’t honestly remember too much about when Marie left. I know I was crying. I know my brother was crying. And I know that Marie was crying. She packed my brother and I a suitcase each of our clothes.
Marie took us over to another PMQ on base and left us with one of Richard’s airforce buddies. I can’t remember who this guy was other than he had two kids that were older than me. It was one of these older boys that gave me their bicycle when his father bought him a new bicycle. What I also remember about this guy is that he had a reel-to-reel tape deck that I was fascinated with.
So yeah, my brother and I weren’t abandoned.
Until the day I die I will never forgive Marie for leaving me with an alcoholic rage fuelled monster suffering from PTSD and intergenerational family trauma. But no, she didn’t abandon us like Richard and his melodramatic outbursts would make it sound like.
Richard would have been fucking pissed. Richard was at sea with the airforce when Marie left. Richard was fine with having children so long as he didn’t have to look after them. And now with Marie gone, he was going to have to look after his own kids. So he brought his alcoholic and psychologically damaged mother out from Edmonton, AB to raise my brother and I.
And as we know from my Alberta Foster Care records, Richard always had to play the victim. And I kid you not, Richard was excellent at bullshitting. There’s a reason why Alberta Social Services noted Richard as “frequently telling different stories from one meeting to another”. He lied, and he lied good.
And I also know for a fact that Marie didn’t abandon us like Richard said she did. Richard made an application to the PEI courts for child custody. The application never went anywhere in the court. The court made no determination as to child custody. If Marie had abandoned my brother and I like Richard claimed she did, it would have been a slam dunk. Richard would have been awarded custody and in fact the courts may have awarded Richard child support payments from Marie.
Yet, none of this happened. Richard wasn’t a kind old man who didn’t want free money from Marie because he had a kind heart and didn’t want to cause her further distress. Richard was a man who could carry a fucking grudge better than Allied Van Lines carries furniture.
At the time it wasn’t common knowledge, but it is now that service members back in the day often abused the National Defence Act and the Defence Establishment Trespass Regulations to their own advantage.
The Hillcrest housing development was built to DND spec by a private builder and was then leased to DND by this builder. Any property that is leased by DND becomes a “Defence Establishment”. Only members of the Canadian Armed Forces or civilian employees of the Department of National Defence have any legal right to be on a Defence Establishment.
Military dependents such as my brother and I and our mother have no legal right to be on a defence establishment. We’re only there at our serving parent’s pleasure.
There was a report commissioned by the Canadian Forces in 1996 to look at spousal abuse in the Canadian Forces. The report was finished in the spring of 2000 and released.
The report found that men would often use the Defence Establishment Trespass Regulations to eject their spouse out of the PMQ and off the base when the marriage was breaking down.
Once kicked out of the military housing and off the base the non-serving spouse often found it impossible to serve papers on the service member as they and their lawyers would be barred from the base or from approaching military housing which was located on a base.
The report would also discover that the serving member’s superiors would often lie to outside social service agencies about the child custody status of the children, implying that the service member had custody. This would deny the non-serving spouse of any civil benefits.
Now, the odd thing about Richard’s claim that Marie abandoned my brother and I is that he himself would readily abandon my brother and I when it fit his needs.
I have no idea of who the woman was that brought me to the hospital after my bicycle incident.
But I do know that Iceland is nowhere near Prince Edward. In fact it’s 3,341km from Prince Edward Island to Iceland. By way of comparison it’s 3,359km between Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON.
Grandma had already returned to Edmonton to be with her husband Andy Anderson when I was admitted to the hospital.
Richard received a compassionate posting from Captain Lynda Tyrell in August of 1978 and we ended up moving to Canadian Forces Base Edmonton in August of 1978.
This isn’t the only time Richard would abandon my brother and I.
One of Richard’s favourite places to drop off my brother and I was Canada’s Wonderland north of Toronto. Richard would buy my brother and I the $29.99 season’s pass. He’d drop us off just about every weekend that the park was open during the spring and the fall. He’d drop us off just about every day of the week in the summer. He’d drop us off at 08:00 in the morning and he’d pick us up again at 22:00 after the park closed. That’s almost 14 hours in that fucking park.
He’d give my brother and I $10 each for the day. Even back then, $10 didn’t go very far in a park where hotdogs were about $4 ea. I don’t know about my brother, but I used to just go hide and try to sleep for the afternoon and evening. You can only ride the same rides so many times before they become outright boring.
As my brother would call it, this was “Richard’s Discount Babysitting Service”.
I used to pray that every time that Richard would drop me off there that I would be kidnapped and killed and then when the police found my body they’d arrest Richard for child endangerment.
That’s why when I read Richard’s statement to the CFNIS on June 9th, 2011 I nearly choked.
” – In T.O. he (Richard) refused to take him(Robert / Bobbie) to Canada’s Wonderland because of (sic) he was bad; the school found out and said it was child abuse.”
“- He (Robert / Bobbie) threatened to call the police”
You get the feeling that Richard loved good ol’ melodrama and playing the victim?
I have my records from the Children’s Aid Society of Toronto. There’s nothing at all mentioned in there about Canada’s Wonderland or abuse.
The Children’s Aid records make note of the intense sibling rivalry that existed between my brother and I. The records also noted that my father didn’t perceive any trouble between my brother and I, that he but it down to “boys will be boys”. He was also adamant that our family didn’t need to be involved with social services, that our involvement with social services in Alberta was unwarranted. But the Children’s Aid records also make note that due to budget constraints and staffing issues they couldn’t dedicate a lot of resources towards my family unless someone called them about witnessing physical abuse. And living on a military base meant that no one would rat-out another family.
And I highly doubt that the school or Children’s Aid would really give a sweet flying fuck if I went to Canada’s Wonderland or not. But I’ll bet you that Children’s Aid would have loved to have known about Richard’s discount babysitting service.
Yeah, I don’t care how much my murder would have hurt, the suffering and the agony I would have gone through would have been worth seeing the police and the courts destroy Richard.
Now, back to the part where Nancy and Jean-Yves were startled to see my brother and I sitting at the kitchen table happily eating our breakfast.
In our interviews with Alberta Social Services both my brother and I described our grandmother as a threat and very authoritarian.
In my initial assessments with the psychologist hired by Canadian Armed Forces officer Captain Terry Totzke this is what I had to say.
My desire to die is nothing new. It’s been with me for so long as I can remember. It’s just that the fear of pain has kept me alive. But yeah, I would have been 9 years old when I said this.
I guess that first impressions can be very, very deceptive and very misleading.
When Nancy, Jean-Yves, and Marie first showed up in September or October of 1978, Andy Anderson had yet to slip in the bathtub and crack his skull open. Grandma had yet to start drinking. And P.S. had yet to be our babysitter.
And almost two years to the date in 1980 I have major depression, severe anxiety, and I want to kill myself.
When I talked to my brother back in 2013, one of the things that I mentioned was that I remembered grandma having a “Block Parent” sign in her bedroom window.
My brother remarked that kids would have been better off getting into the “Free Candy Van” than coming to our house for help.
Anyways, until next time…….