I joined the Canadian Foreign Service in 2004, and over the last 18 years, I have been travelling and working around the world, with a specific focus on the Middle East. Please see my education and my work experience.
Midway through my career, I can say that I have witnessed many historical events first-hand.
2004 UKRAINIAN ORANGE REVOLUTION
My first foreign assignment for Canada was in 2004 when I was deployed as a Canadian election monitor for the 2004 Ukrainian Presidential elections during the Orange Revolution. I remember vividly standing in Maidan Square with hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians celebrating the election results on December 25.
2006 LEBANON WAR
Two years later, in 2006, I spent six months as a political officer on a temporary assignment in Syria and Lebanon during the July 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah. Throughout the month-long conflict, Canada evacuated over 15,000 Canadians from Lebanon.
2011 ARAB SPRING
In 2008, I returned to Damascus, Syria, for a three-year posting at the Canadian Embassy to Syria, with cross-accreditation to Lebanon and Iraq. In March 2011, widespread protests erupted in Syria and later mutated into a violent civil conflict. It was a dramatic period in the early days of 20011 as we watched for signs to see if the Arab Spring spreading from Tunisia would reach Syria.
In 2013, I began my second posting with a four-year assignment in Doha, Qatar, with the Embassy of Canada to Qatar, including cross-accreditation to Iraq, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
2014 FALL OF MOSUL
In the summer of 2014, Iraq's second-largest city Mosul fell to armed fighters of Da'esh. On August 17, 2014, I arrived in Erbil to support Canada's early response to the crisis. The front line with Da'esh was only 20 km from the hotel where the office of the Canadian Embassy was located. For the following 18 months, I spent most of the assignment travelling in and out of Iraq as Canada's participation in the Coalition Against Da'esh and the NATO Mission to Iraq grew.
In 2016, I deployed from Doha to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to support the Canadian High Commission following a particularly gruesome terrorist attack over the summer in a cafe located 500 meters from our diplomatic compound.
2017 GULF RIFT
In 2017, during the last few months of my time in Doha, the Gulf rift between Qatar and its neighbours (Saudi Arabia, The UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt) erupted. Food in the supermarkets disappeared overnight in Doha as citizens and ex-pats stockpiled supplies in fear of a possible escalation. The rift undermined relations within the Gulf Cooperation Council which remain today.
25TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BATTLE OF MEDAK POCKET
In 2018, I spent eight months covering Croatia and the Western Balkans in a temporary assignment. I travelled non-stop through Serbia, Kosovo, Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania. This is a beautiful part of Southern Europe. I had the joy of seeing the region by accompanying a Wounded Warriors of Canada bike ride for Canadian peacekeeping veterans deployed in the 1990s during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia. Over seven days, after 600 km, we reached our destination to commemorate the 1993 Battle of Medak Pocket, which saw Canadian UN Peacekeepers come under a barrage of fire. I ended my assignment as an OSCE election observer for the 2018 October Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
2019 OCTOBER POPULAR PROTESTS IN IRAQ
In 2019, I returned to the Gulf for an assignment with the Embassy of Canada in Kuwait and with accreditation to Iraq. Once again, my overseas work brought me back to Baghdad and Erbil. My first trip to Iraq at the end of September and the beginning of October saw renewed widespread protests in Baghdad and across the country's south.
2020 PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN IN KUWAIT
The 2020 global COVID 19 pandemic has risen one year into my Kuwait assignment. Life is starting to resume after three months of a lockdown and partial curfew. Still, the impact is likely to change our everyday lives as social distancing becomes a new way of life. Zoom, Skype, MS Teams, WhatsApp, and other social media have become our primary modes of communication.