CAF Author goes to France

LCol Steve Jourdain

LCol Steve Jourdain, displays his book, “Mon Afghanistan”, a collection of lessons learned during his deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 as Commander Cobra Company.

In the hallowed halls of the legendary École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr in Guer, France, military personnel and civilian enthusiasts gathered for two days of presentations, talks, and arm-chair chats at the 5th Annual Festival International du Livre Militaire (FILM) July 18-19.

The festivities had Canadian representation in the form of LCol Steve Jourdain, Chief of Operations of the 2nd Canadian Division, and author of war memoir “Mon Afghanistan”, a record of his time serving as Commander of Cobra Company in Sperwan Ghar in 2009.

“I was contacted by a coordinator who had my name passed to him by a reviewer,” says LCol Jourdain. “I was excited at the prospect of presenting alongside so many other military personnel, plus I already had plans to visit France, so there was no way I was going to pass it up.”

With a release in 2013, “Mon Afghanistan” received solid reviews from both critics and the military community. It is a personal and honest reflection on his time in Sperwan Ghar. LCol Jourdain says he was happy to write down his thoughts on the role of Canadians in the Afghan conflict, the responsibilities of leading men and women in combat situations, and the repercussions when those combat situations resulted in lost lives.

“It was a period of great growth for me. I learned a lot of things there that have given me a new perspective on my life and the lives of others,” says LCol Jourdain. “I hope that with my book I can pass on those perspectives and lessons to people who need them.”

He says the idea for the book began long before his boots hit the dirt in Sperwan Ghar. During his winter training period in 2008 he had made a decision.

“I knew that what I was experiencing I would never experience again in my lifetime,” he says. “I was determined to leave my mark so that people can look back on this period in Canada’s history and see what it was like for me.”

The book has been recognized as the first of its kind: a war memoir published by a French-Canadian Army Officer in his native language. At the festival in France LCol Jourdain was surprised by just how popular the practice is in France.

“There are many, many French military authors,” he says. “It was great to represent my country and my culture with my book, and to see how it all fits in to this greater thing. It was very enlightening.”

Following his presentation, LCol Jourdain took part in a discussion alongside French Army Chief-Sergeant, and author of “Blessé de Guerre”, Jocelyn Truchet, who lost a leg in an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonation in the Kapisa Province of Afghanistan.

“It was interesting to speak with someone who is from another part of the world, but experienced something very similar to what I did,” he says. “He had his own unique experiences, or ‘his Afghanistan’, but at the end of the day we were all there. We knew what it was like.”

Now home at the Montreal Garrison, LCol Jourdain says he would happily return to FILM in subsequent years.

“Meeting all these new people, presenting my experiences, and sharing my book made it all such a pleasant experience,” he says. “I learned a lot, and if I can pass on what I learned and help someone in need then it has all been worth it.”

Shawn O’Hara, Staff Writer

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