After the initial grief, Belinda Naismith began to worry about putting her three children through school after her husband’s sudden death during military training.
She and her husband wanted all of their children to attend post-secondary schools to study something they are passionate about. “It was a non-negotiable thing for us,” Ms. Naismith said.
Her eldest son, Adam, was 12 when Captain Kevin Naismith died. The CF-18 he was flying in northern Alberta crashed during Exercise Maple Flag training in 2003.
Ms. Naismith said she knew she’d manage to get her kids to university or college, but wasn’t sure how.
Years after her husband’s death, the Canada Company, a charitable, non-partisan organization, created scholarships for the children of fallen military personnel. On Friday, her son received a $4,000 scholarship for the fourth time. It helps pay for textbooks, living costs and other necessities that weren’t covered by Veterans Affairs, Ms. Naismith said.
Mr. Naismith received the scholarship on Friday aboard HMCS Montréal, which is docked in Toronto. Later this month, he’ll enter his fourth year at the University of Saskatchewan, where he’s pursuing a fine arts degree.
He was among the seven recipients who travelled to Toronto to receive their scholarships. Three others didn’t attend. The fathers of the 10 recipients died in southern Lebanon, Afghanistan, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Bosnia between 1993 and 2008.
“Each of these young people has suffered a terrible loss and had to endure that ultimate sacrifice,” said Blake Goldring, Canada Company chairman and chairman and chief executive officer of AGF Management Ltd., who was among the scholarship presenters.
Beyond the financial help, Mr. Naismith said he appreciates the peers he’s found in the other scholarship recipients. He’s able to share memories about his early years, when his father’s military career required the family to move from Moose Jaw to Yellowknife to Cold Lake. The recipients share the everyday moments that they miss most. For Mr. Naismith, it’s carpentry with his dad.
“This is the first time … I actually met somebody who was in a similar situation,” he said.
“We all talk outside of the scholarship because it’s hard to talk to [other people] about certain things that they haven’t been through.”
One of those peers is Matthew Mellish. Although he received the scholarship last year, Friday’s ceremony was the first one he’s been able to attend. Last year, it fell on the fourth anniversary of the day his father, Warrant Officer Frank Robert Mellish, was killed in Afghanistan.
Mr. Mellish and Mr. Naismith want to join the military after university.
“Being raised in the military life, around the military, I can’t think of doing anything else at the moment,” Mr. Mellish said.