A tale of two different Access to Information requests.
On Tuesday April 12th, 2022 as I sat in my apartment being examined via ZOOM by the defence counsel for the defendant, counsel asked me a question based upon my foster care records from the Alberta Government.
Counsel’s assistant did a screen share and an image similar to this image appeared on my screen:
I had seen this document before. This was the interview of my father by Judith James, a psychologist that had been hired by the Canadian Armed Forces to evaluate my family after our school teachers and our principal complained to the military social worker about the issues my brother and I were having in school immediately after we arrived at CFB Griesbach from CFB Namao.
Confidential – Parent Interview Re: Robert and (my brother) Gill
I met with Richard on Nov. 6 1980 to discuss the level of emotional distress demonstrated by his sons Robert and (my brother). <blank> Richard acknowledged and confirmed many of the family problems cited by Robert and (my brother) <blank>.
What was new to me was the following text:
<blank> appeared concerned about <blank> drinking, suggesting <blank> emotionally abusive towards both children, especially when inebriated. As well, <blank> suggested that <blank> attempts to undermine any closeness between <blank> and <blank> by telling them false stories.
After the meeting was over I searched my copy of my foster care records, but I couldn’t find this paragraph anywhere. I found the page, but the section where this paragraph should have been was redacted.
This paragraph would have been devastating if it had been included in the copy of my foster care records that were released to me in 2011. As it is, I am so emotionally numb and dead now that this paragraph is nothing more than an amusing curiosity.
Let me fill in the blanks to the best of my ability based on some basic assumptions.
<Richard> appeared concerned about < Margaret’s> drinking, suggesting <she was> emotionally abusive towards both children, especially when inebriated. As well, <Richard> suggested that <Margaret> attempts to undermine any closeness between <him> and <his sons> by telling them false stories.
Fuck me Richard you stupid fucking asshole.
Both Richard and my grandmother drank excessively.
When they both got shitfaced, which was often, they’d stay up all night drinking and then spend the next day passed out. After that came the hangover phase. You didn’t want to be around either of these two when they were recovering from a hangover.
And yes, this all occurred on an active Canadian Armed Forces base in the Private Married Quarters on that base. And no, my father wasn’t the only alkie in a Canadian Forces uniform back then.
It was probably a very good thing that Richard was seldom living with us on Canadian Forces Base Namao. I couldn’t really imagine living in a house with these two drinking each other under the table any chance they got.
For Richard to tell Judith James in November of 1980 that he was concerned about his mother’s drinking is fucking hilarious.
As much as Richard despised his mother, he needed his mother to look after my brother and I while he was off playing G.I. Fucking Joe in the Canadian Forces for weeks and months at a time.
There are three DUIs that I clearly remember. One from CFB Shearwater, one from CFB Summerside, and one from CFB Namao.
There were all of the times he’d come home from the base mess three sheets to the fucking wind and he’d wake me and my brother up and keep us up at night to keep him company when he was drinking.
There was the yelling and hollering that he’d do when he was well past the point of intoxicated. When Richard was like this on Summerside and Namao there was absolutely no sleeping for my brother and I.
Grandma would do similar things when she’d get drunk. Luckily she didn’t have a driver’s licence, so we never had to worry about being in the car with her when she was drunk.
It was Richard’s drinking and abusive behaviour that led to my mother leaving and Grandma being brought in to look after my brother and I.
It was Grandma’s drinking that led to my brother and I needing to be babysat by P.S..
They were both alcoholics more in love with the bottle than the children they were supposed to look after.
So all I can say is “FUCK YOU RICHARD!”.
What a pathetic excuse of a man you were.
Blaming your own mother’s alcoholism for the problems your own children were exhibiting when your alcoholism was just as fucking bad.
And when I tell you that there was absolutely no one that my brother or I could tell about the abuse, I mean, there was no body that we could tell. The two adults in our lives were damaged beyond all hope.
And that’s probably for the better. Peering too deep into the black pit of his soul would probably drive anyone insane.
I don’t remember Richard very much from CFB Shearwater. I vaguely remember a motorcycle ride.
I remember some sort of string controlled model airplane that he had.
I remember him walking to work once in the fog.
But that’s it.
I remember him on CFB Summerside, but again, not that much.
I know that Marie drove him to the airfield at the base a couple of times when he had to go away on training exercises.
I remember my grandmother, and Kimberly Wood, and even my mother before she left, but I don’t ever remember Richard except for when he picked me up from the hospital after my bicycle incident in July of 1978.
I remember he almost set the PMQ on fire once when he left the kettle on the stove and he fell asleep. The kettle melted and the handle started burning.
I remember him wanting to build me a wooden go-cart but that came to an end the night he came home drunk and went to the basement.
CFB Namao, he was rarely around. Just like on Summerside, it was his mother raising us, not him. He would occasionally stop in and take my brother and I down to Wetaskiwin to visit his girlfriend Vicki. When Richard started seeing Sue around the summer of 1979 he would occasionally pick my brother and I up and we’d go over and stay at Sue’s place for the weekend.
But again, I didn’t see much of Richard until he moved back in to the house in August / September of 1980. He brought Sue to live with him as well at this point.
I remember thinking after Richard had moved back in with us that my real father had died in a military exercise and that the Canadian Forces had replaced my real father with an imposter hoping that I wouldn’t notice.
He was so very different from what I had remembered before. Also, he was around a lot more now than he had ever been before.
In October of 1980 we were moved 10km down the road from CFB Namao to CFB Griesbach at taxpayer expense .
By the summer of 1981 Grandma had moved off base and moved into her own apartment on 107th Ave and 111th street.
Richard still was going away on training exercises and dumping my brother and I on Sue’s lap.
Things under Richard’s domain were not all that pleasant.
Richard was the ultimate control freak. And as my brother was 7 and I was 10, nothing was ever going to be as perfect as he wanted it.
It got to the point that Richard put my brother and I in the base daycare centre before we’d go to school. Richard would wake us up in the morning, we’d get dressed, have breakfast, and then we’d have to go sit in the day care centre until it was time to go to school.
If you ever want to get tormented and teased and get the shit beaten out of you, try being a 10 year old military dependent living on a military base and going to a day care centre for toddlers on a military base.
After school was just as bad. We weren’t allowed to have keys for the house. So after school we’d have to stand on the front porch of the PMQ and wait. School would get out at 15:00. Richard would get off work at around 16:30. Winter time in Edmonton could get really fucking cold. And no, we could’t go over to other people’s PMQs and wait there. We had to be standing on the porch when he got home.
One winter day my brother decided that he had enough of freezing, so he went and kicked one of the basement windows in and then climbed down into the PMQ. Richard went through the fucking roof. I can’t remember what he did to my brother, but it was my fault for not keeping an eye on my brother and letting my brother do something that he could have hurt himself doing.
Yeah, it was funny but in a sad funny way how Richard was. Other kids on base could “whine” or “cry” and usually get “their way” with their parents. But when it came to Richard. His decisions were final. And any questioning his decisions were taken as a direct challenge to his authority. And you did not challenge his authority. Period.
Yeah, that was Richard. “Not overly warm”.
When I tried to track down my Uncle Doug in 2011 I made contact with his widow Yvonne. She said almost exactly thing this social service worker had to say. Richard could appear to be friendly. And he would help out. But you had to stay out of his way while he was helping or he would explode in anger.
Bob Becker said the same thing. Ed Blaha said the same thing. Almost anyone who met my father would say the same thing.
He was “pleasant”, he “seemed nice”, but he seemed to be troubled by something.
In 2011 he told the CFNIS that I was nothing but trouble in school. But in 1982 he told Alberta Social Services that he wasn’t aware of my brother or I having any trouble in school as the school never tells him anything.
More than likely it was he didn’t want to hear what the schools had to say.
Richard kept my brother and I not out of love but out of a desire to “control the costs”. His friends were always asking him why if having kids was so upsetting to him why he didn’t ship us off to live with our mother. His answer was always that as long as we lived under his roof, he could control the costs, but if we went to live with our mother he’d have to sign his paycheque over to her, and that was not going to happen.
You’ll also notice that it’s not my imagination. It’s right there in black and white. Richard had abdicated his parenting role for my brother and dropped my brother in my lap.
This is how Richard was. Richard wasn’t going to wear my brother. Any issues that my brother had obviously weren’t due to Richard’s complete lack of parenting skills. No, it was painfully obvious that any issues that my brother had were due to me not looking after or raising my brother properly.
When I examined Richard for Federal Court in 2013 he said the reason that my brother and I were never involved in activities after we moved from CFB Griesbach was because I showed no interest.
Here he is telling social services that we were involved with “swimming, bowling, hockey, cubs, beavers” but that we aren’t involved with these any longer as he “doesn’t feel the boys get enough from them”.
What a fucking load of shit.
When I lived on CFB Namao, Grandma had me in bowling, beavers, swimming, basketball, and hockey. The fees for military dependents on base were minimal, but the parents still had to buy the equipment. My grandmother would use her CPP cheques to pay the fees and buy some of the equipment. She would force Richard to pay for the rest.
Grandma is the one who took me swimming. She’d take me to bowling. She’d take me to basket ball. She’d take me to hockey. She would always coax one of the other fathers to tie up my skates for me as her hands were too arthritic.
The reason why we didn’t do these sports on CFB Griesbach was twofold.
First, the arena, the pool, and the bowling centre were up on CFB Namao. Richard was not going to waste his time driving up to the other base and then waiting around.
And as Richard had told me in the fall of 1982 when Westfield was going on a swimming trip to the Kinsmen Sports Centre for a swimming trip and he refused to sign the permission slip “There will be other naked boys around and you won’t be able to control yourself”.
That’s why there were no more sports activities like swimming, or bowling, or hockey……. Richard didn’t want me becoming aroused around other naked boys like I had done with P.S. on CFB Namao.
Which make it even more painful every time I look at his 2011 statement that he gave to the CFNIS when he professed he knew nothing about the babysitter P.S. from CFB Namao.
Richard made my life a living fucking hell because of what P.S. had done to me and my brother on CFB Namao. Or more specifically, what I had enjoyed doing with the babysitter and what I had allowed the babysitter to do to my younger brother.
Yeah. As a kid I had no fucking idea of what was going on. If I did something wrong I’d get a spanking, or sent to my room without supper, or grounded. And if my brother did something wrong I’d get a spanking, or sent to my room without supper, or grounded. There was absolutely no fucking winning no matter what.
P.S. was twice my age. There was nothing I could do to stop P.S.. But that’s not the way that Richard saw things.
As I said in a previous post. I was Richard’s scapegoat. Anything that went wrong with my brother or with me was obviously my fault. And he needed a scapegoat as he sure as he couldn’t take responsibility.
When it was his responsibility to look after us, school wasn’t telling him anything, his mother wasn’t telling him anything, social services wasn’t telling him anything, the psychiatrists and psychologists weren’t telling him anything.
When my brother got into to trouble. It wasn’t Richard’s responsibility. Richard couldn’t take responsibility. So the responsibility had to become someone else’s responsibility.
I fully understand this now. Fuck, I fully understood this when I got my social service / foster care paperwork in 2011.
But understanding this does nothing to erase the memories of the beltings, the backhands, the open handed slaps, the shoves to the ground, the hours and hours of frustrated crying not understanding what the fuck it was that I was doing wrong.
Yeah, this would be an understatement. My brother and I didn’t like each other much. And I don’t think Richard really cared.
I was suffering from major depression and severe anxiety and receiving no treatment for either. I was still dealing with the fallout from CFB Namao. And here I am at age 10 being held responsible to raise a 6 year old who was having his own issues due to CFB Namao and the dysfunctional household that we were living in.
The rivalry between us had become so extreme that the North York Board of Education had to separate us and send us to other school.
And Richard gave not the single slightest fuck whatsoever.
Richard was controlling the costs.
Richard wasn’t signing his paycheque over to “that bitch”.
That’s all that mattered to Richard.
It’s not so much that I liked responsibility. I just liked being away from Richard. I liked not being anywhere near Sue. I liked not having to be in their house. I liked the fact that the owner of the pet shop appreciated the work I was doing. I liked the fact that the owner of the store never once yelled at me or hit me. I liked having little animals to play with. I liked being able to buy a hot dog at the Julius stand in the mall or go over and get a cheese burger and fries at the McDonalds in the parking lot. I liked being able to play arcade games at the Wizard’s Castle in the mall.
It’s not that I liked responsibility. It’s that I found somethings that were sorely missing from my life at home. Respect. Trust. Admiration.
I guess that’s one thing that always irked Richard, ’cause he sure mentions it a lot in the social service records. I “admire” my mother. Fuck, this must have made him absolutely sick. After everything that he was doing for me that I still had the audacity to “admire” or “adore” my mother, the women who in his words was a “miserable bitch” that “ran away” and “abandoned” him and left him with her kids to raise.
When Sue first moved in with us she did a few good things. We stopped going to church with Grandma on Sundays. Sue said that if we didn’t want to go to church we didn’t have to. The Dutch have never been very religious. The Netherlands has always been a highly irreligious country.
Sue also put her foot down with Grandma’s drinking and Richard’s drinking. I know that Grandma’s drinking caused a lot of tension between her and Sue.
Sue also said at the start that she was going to get Richard to stop hitting us. In the end Richard’s ability to play the victim and to blame the actual victims got Sue hitting my brother and I. To be very clear, she was never anywhere near as violent as Richard could be.
She was more of the flyswatter type. And she was also good with pinching.
I think the only reason that Sue started hitting my brother and I was out of frustration and inexperience. At the time she would have been in her very early twenties. I had always joked that she was the older sister that I had never asked for.
Her and I were so close in age that one day Sue had me on the ground on my back in the front yard and she was slapping me. The female military police officer that lived in PMQ #69 came over and grabbed Sue and pulled her off of me. The female MP told Sue that if she ever caught her fighting with her little brother that she was going to tell our father. Yeah, the MP thought that Sue was my older sister.
On more than one time Sue referred to me as a “retard”.
And due to my untreated major depression I was prone to fits of crying. On more than one occasion she would tell me that if I didn’t stop crying like a little girl that she was going to take me to Sears and buy me a dress.
I don’t hold any grudges against her.
She was a kid herself back in the early ’80s.
She had fallen in love with a man that had some very major psychological issues.
The man she fell in love with had children that he refused to accept responsibility for.
Both of the kids that she was expected to look after had “secrets” that Richard and the Canadian Armed Forces were doing everything they could to keep hidden. I often wonder what she would have done if she had known that my brother and I had been sexually abused by our babysitter P.S. and at least in my case Captain Father Angus McRae for 1-1/2 years.
The only person that I blame for back then is Richard.
He could have looked after these issues had he been 1/4 of the man he pretended to be.
But to be honest, it wasn’t just Richard that was to blame.
The Canadian Armed Forces also share a lot of the blame.
Men like my father were a dime-a-dozen in the Canadian Forces. Men who couldn’t fit into society anywhere else. They fit into the military. As long as guys like my father were willing to put their lives on the line for the country, the Canadian Forces was more than willing to turn a blind eye to what went on in the PMQ patches. A guy like my father could never have survived out on civvy street. He needed to be amongst other guys like him. Other guys who maybe drank too much, or hit their wives a little too often, or who maybe disciplined their kids a little too frequently.
My father wasn’t the only alky with rage issues and some form of untreated military related psychological trauma.
There were others.
There were many others.
In the end, there is no fixing or undoing the damage that Richard created.