What's your story

A letter to my nephew — the 5th-generation in our family to join the Canadian Forces

Corina Sibley comes from a long line of proud Canadians to join the Canadian Forces. As her nephew joins the army cadets, she shares their family history with him.
'I had wanted to be a soldier.' (Corina Sibley)

Corina Sibley comes from a long line of proud members of the Canadian Forces. Now, her nephew is set to be the next to follow in those footsteps. Throughout 2017, we're asking Canadians, "What's your story?" Sibley of Oakville, Ont., shares hers.


Dear Aidan,

When I enlisted in the army I became the fourth generation of our family to serve in the Canadian Forces, so that makes you fifth generation! 

Your great-great-grandfather, Lewis Vatcher, served as a merchant mariner in WW I aboard the HMCS Niobe, which was engaged in intercepting German ships along the American coast.

'Your great-great-grandfather is second from the left in the second row.' (Corina Sibley)

Lewis also went on to serve as a merchant mariner in WW II, during which he made several convoys from Halifax to Murmansk, Russia. More ships were lost to German U-boat wolf packs on these convoys than any other.  He survived two sinking ships during his career. During one, he managed to save two brass candlesticks and a sand timer.  These were passed down and now I have them in the dining room!

I had wanted to be a soldier since I was about seven or eight years old.- Corina Sibley

Your great-grandfather, Vernon Arthur Sibley, served in WW II with the Lincoln and Welland Regiment (based out of St. Catherines, Ont.) and fought in Holland. Lewis Vatcher was his father-in-law.

Great-grandpa Sibley served in the Regiment from 2 November 1944 to 5 August 1945 and left with the rank of lance-corporal. During this time he fought at the Maas River, Sprang-Cappelle, Kapelsche Veer and Bergen op Zoom to name a few. He also survived the war.

Grandpa Sibley — when he joined the air cadets at the age of 14 in Nova Scotia, and when he retired with the rank of Warrant Officer. (Corina Sibley)

Grandpa Sibley was stationed in Germany in the late 1960s. While stationed there, he visited the family in Holland that had billeted his father during WW II. There he met his future wife and your oma, who was the niece of the family with whom his father had stayed. I call oma a second generation war bride!

Grandpa Sibley served for 23 years in total; first as an artillery gunner, then as an intelligence operator. He retired with the rank of warrant officer.

I joined the reserve unit 700 Communications Squadron as a private in 1989 while still in high school and was awarded Top Student after completing General Military Training. I went on to learn the radio operator trade and transitioned to 705 Communications Squadron in Hamilton while attending McMaster University and then joined the regular force as an ROTP officer in Army Logistics the following summer. I completed Basic Training summer 1990 at CFB Borden, only one of three women to pass the course — there were 15 women starting out.

'One of my favourite courses at CFB Borden was Land Force Field Logistics where we learned urban warfare. I’m in the front row, fourth from left.' (Corina Sibley)

Upon graduation from university, I was stationed as G4 Supply at Hamilton District Headquarters and later as quartermaster, 2 Service Battalion, Petawawa, Ont. The QM platoon was the only one on the base solely commanded by women at the time. I left the military with the rank of lieutenant (four months away from captain promotion).

I had wanted to be a soldier since I was about seven or eight years old and was able to make my dream come true. I loved being a soldier and was so proud to continue the family tradition of service to country. However, like many women before and since, I experienced such harassment that I decided to leave my military career.

'I loved being a soldier and was so proud to continue the family tradition of service to country. However, like many women before and since, I experienced such harassment that I decided to leave my military career.' (Corina Sibley)

I know you went to Vimy Ridge for the 100th anniversary with your cadet corps — your grandpa Sibley was there as a young soldier while stationed in Germany.

I've understood from a young age that the freedom Canada continues to enjoy comes with a price. I love the fact our family has played a small part for the past one hundred years in helping our country remain "Strong and Free." Thank you for keeping up the family tradition of serving our beautiful country Canada,

Aunt Corina

What's your story? What defines Canada for you? Is there a time that you were proud to be Canadian, or perhaps a time you felt disappointed? Is there a place, person, or event in your life that sums up what being Canadian is to you? Tell us at cbc.ca/ whatsyourstory.