Cudworth School Hosts Military Display

The students at Cudworth School were fortunate enough to have a former teacher return for a visit and bring with him an amazing display of memorabilia and artifacts collected to showcase the Canadian military over an extensive time period. Retired teacher Rod Dignean began collecting items in the early 1990’s depicting military history from the Riel Resistance through both World Wars, Korea, peacekeeping missions and Afghanistan. His collection includes a little bit of everything including uniforms, medals, helmets, deactivated arsenal and other military hardware. While the focus of Dignean’s collection is the Canadian military, he also has artifacts from the British military, Japanese, American, and all of the Allied nations. When it comes to the Canadian military the RCN (navy), RCAF (air force), RCIC (infantry), RCMS (medics), CWAC (women’s corp), and Special Forces are all represented in his collection. Dignean’s display is a hands-on one which gives kids the chance to “touch and feel history”, instead of only experiencing it through video games and movies and he hopes that will give them an appreciation of the contribution that Canadians have made.

Rod, who spent 16 years teaching in Cudworth, was a Special Education teacher with an interest in history, but it wasn’t until a friend of his from high school got him interested in the history behind war that he got interested in Canada’s role. As Canadian’s, he said, we tend to deny the importance of what our nation’s military forces have done. In our self-deprecating way, we have inadvertently dismissed Canada’s contributions and Dignean says that through his display he hopes that students and others will come to understand that Canada’s involvement is not for nothing. In Afghanistan for example, Dignean believes that Canadians made a difference through assisting with engineering projects and schools, and his belief stems from the time he was deployed there. Besides being a teacher, Rod was also a Reservist with the Canadian Armed Forces and was called up for active duty in 2013 and upon taking a leave of absence from teaching, completed one tour of duty. Canadian troops, Dignean asserted, were there to assist the Afghan nationals to build the framework with which to move forward, unfortunately ‘politics’ always wins and when the Taliban took control, much of it was undone. However, change once learned, once experienced cannot be unlearned and the hope remains that Afghan will one day enjoy the freedoms Canadian troops were trying to help establish.

He says that November is always a busy month with bookings to bring his display to schools, but he will set up anywhere he is invited at any time of the year. His usual invitations come from schools, Legions, and places like the Armoury in Saskatoon. Any group wanting to book him to set up a display of his collection can contact him at roddignean@sasktel.net

Carol Baldwin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Wakaw Recorder