Tours offer newcomers chance to learn about Canadian military history

Dale Welta leads a group of people through the Regina Legion Museum on a tour. He pauses every time he speaks as an interpreter relays his message.

Welta is used to giving tours to students and adults, but on this day he's touring around a number of new Canadians. Some had only been in Canada a few months.

"It's a learning curve — it takes a bit of getting used to but it's a lot of fun," Welta said. "It's a real pleasure to see the looks on their faces when they understand." 

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"If we don't know our history we're bound to repeat the same mistakes," he said. "And the more people we can tell — whether new Canadians or people who have lived here all their lives — we want to get that message out that it's part of our history and we need to honour those people."

The tours were organized through the Regina Legion Branch 001 and the Regina Open Door Society. They are a way to educate newcomers about the history of Canada and the sacrifices people have made for the country. 

All that we are currently living in is because of them, because of their sacrifice. - Mubarak Najem

Mubarak Najem has been in Canada for six months. He said it's important for him to know the history of his new home.

"[I] wanted to come and see the history of Canada and all the people who sacrificed their lives for the peace," Najem said through an interpreter. "All that we are currently living in is because of them, because of their sacrifice."

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Najem said living somewhere with peace and calmness means a lot. He's originally from Kuwait and also lived in Jordan before coming to Canada.

"I got to feel how it really was," Najem said. "Through pictures and all the stuff that was displayed in the museum, I got to understand the life that these people went through." 

Learning a history of a new country that you move into is as important as learning the language and learning the culture. - Shams Badri

One of the highlights for the Newcomers has been the new mural at the Legion, Welta said. It was painted last summer by a local artist and it depicts the different wars Canada has fought. It tells a story about the different states soldiers can be in when they come home: safe and okay, mentally injured, physically injured or in a casket. 

"It was the first time for me too, to come to this museum," said Shams Badri, the tour's interpreter. "It was exciting." 

Badri translates English into a variety of Arabic languages around Regina. She said she hopes the newcomers take away two major aspects from the Legion tours: the role of Canada on a world stage and the role of men and women in the war. 

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"Learning a history of a new country that you move into is as important as learning the language and learning the culture," Badri said.

"You need to understand the history in order to appreciate the country and feel union to it and to teach your children to appreciate this country."