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Memories still vivid for youth who lost dad in military accident

Canada Company scholarships go to youths whose military parents have died in combat or training

Although Halsey Naismith’s father died in a military accident when she was six years old, she still retains some vivid and cherished memories of him 16 years later.

One memory is of watching her dad, Capt. Kevin Naismith, shine his combat boots on the stairs regularly, while another is watching him leave for work all too often. Perhaps her most endearing memory is the last birthday she celebrated with him.

“I came home and he had bunny waiting for me, so that’s probably the happiest memory I have of him,” she said, “because a lot of them were sad. Being a military child, you see your parents leave more than you see them with you.”

Capt. Naismith was part of 416 Tactical Fighter Squadron based in Cold Lake, Alta. He died on May 26, 2003 near Burnt Lake, Alta., while on a training exercise at age 39.

To support children whose military parents have died in training or in combat, the charity Canada Company hands out scholarships every year to Canadian youths to support their post-secondary education. Ms. Naismith was one of 15 students this year who received the scholarship during a ceremony in Toronto.

Each recipient is eligible to receive up to $4,000 per year, for up to four years, to cover the costs of their college education. A total of $618,000 has been given to 53 students since the scholarships were established in 2007.

“I’m pretty thrilled about (the scholarship),” said Naismith, who received the $4,000 scholarship for the third time in the last three years, and whose siblings have also received it. “It’s a really great way to give back to us kids. Obviously I wish that I wouldn’t have to receive it … but it’s a great thing that Canada Company has put together for us.”

Receiving this funding is helpful since, Naismith continued, she has enough to be stressed about in school without also having to deal with money. This is especially true in a household with one working parent.

Naismith is in her first year of nursing at the University of Regina. She pursued this field since her mother, aunt and great-grandmother are and were nurses. She also wanted to find a career in which she could help people.

Growing up without a father was difficult and “still sucks,” Naismith said. It’s especially difficult at particular times of the year, such as birthdays, holidays, or special events such as graduations and weddings. She pointed out her brother has married while her sister has an infant son.

Naismith grew up in a household where there were more females than males. She had very few male figures or role models in her life, aside from distant family members. Her brother graduated more than a decade ago and then moved out.

“It was hard, but it was good. It could have been better, but my mom is absolutely amazing,” she added.

One positive of receiving the scholarship is being able to meet other youths who have also lost a mother or father through military activities, Naismith remarked. She has made a few friends with these other youths, which she likened to being one big extended family.  

Travelling to Toronto to receive the scholarship also allowed Naismith to interact with the founder of Canada Company, Blake Goldring.

“He is an absolutely amazing man,” she gushed. “Truly down to earth and cares about others … . Myself and my (family), we’re all grateful for what Blake Goldring has done for us creating the charity. Not only does it take stress off me … it’s also very helpful to take stress off of (my mom’s) shoulders.”

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