It’s been more than a decade since Joshua Key chose to cross into Canada rather than continue as a US soldier in the Iraq war. But, at times, he still feels as though he’s fighting a war – one he describes as “a war against my post-traumatic stress disorder, a conflict against my contract with the military and a battle with the Canadian government”.
He arrived in Canada in 2005 – soon after Canada’s then-government declared it would not actively participate in the US-led war in Iraq – following in the footsteps of the up to 90,000 Americans who sought refuge in Canada during the Vietnam war era.
But unlike those who poured into Canada in the 1960s and 70s, the estimated 200 Iraq war resisters who arrived decades later found little government support in their bid to stay in Canada. Years after crossing the border, the 15 or so known resisters who continue to remain in Canada live lives coloured with uncertainty, the threat of being deported home to face potential jail time for desertion looming constantly over their new lives.
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