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P.E.I. reservist returns to the Island after serving six months in South Sudan

Maj. Jennifer Arsenault is greeted by her husband Christopher Michaud, also an officer with the Canadian Armed forces, along with colleagues, friends and family at the Charlottetown Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Submitted
Maj. Jennifer Arsenault is greeted by her husband Christopher Michaud, also an officer with the Canadian Armed forces, along with colleagues, friends and family at the Charlottetown Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 6. Submitted
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

Canadian reservist Maj. Jennifer Arsenault felt happiness, relief and joy upon arriving at the Charlottetown Airport after spending six-and-a-half months in South Sudan.

But the thought that crossed her mind most was the thankfulness she had for being Canadian.

“What I come back to is, I am very, very thankful to live where I live,” she said.

“There are definite benefits, whatever you want to call it, to live in Canada and especially in P.E.I. It is good to be home.”

She was greeted by a large crowd of colleagues, friends, her family and even P.E.I.’s Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry on Wednesday, Nov. 6.

Arsenault is the commanding officer of P.E.I.’s 1 Squadron, 36 Signal Regiment, which is based out of Halifax. She took over as commanding officer about a year-and-a-half ago.

In April, Arsenault was deployed to South Sudan for the United Nations (UN) UNMISS mission. She worked in the capital city of Juba at the UN’s joint operation centre working with a team comprised of military and civilians from the UN.

Arsenault said the city was still damaged from previous conflict, but the locals were always kind to her and her colleagues and happy to see the aid being provided.

“It is definitely and eye-opener to see what’s going on in other places,” she said.

“I am really happy to be home.”

She served as a watch-officer, looking after passage of information, consolidation of reports, managing casualty evacuation information flow, but her main purpose was making sure her bosses knew about instances and happenings around the country.

South Sudan separated from the northern part of the country in 2011 and is in a pre-transitional government, which had originally been planned to form on May 12 but was pushed to Nov. 12.

“We will see what happens with the government and the oppositional forces,” she said.

“There are still friends of mine that are there and there is a huge multinational environment.”

During her time there, Arsenault explained she made close friendships in the tight-knit group.

She said she never felt like she was in specific danger working in Juba but said the situation is in the southern region of Sudan is still “unsettled”.

The Canadian military currently has between 10-12 members helping with the UNMISS mission, which is one of the UN’s largest missions currently in operation.

“Our support to (this mission) is in some key roles and (we) are contributing to it the best we can,” she said.

As a reservist, Arsenault said she hoped she could be deployed again in a few years but for now, she wants to enjoy the company or her family and friends.

“I am really happy to be home.”

Twitter.com/Ernesto_Carranz


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