Veteran Stories:
Corinne Kernan Sévigny

Army

  • A CWAC recruiting booth in Quebec.

    Corinne Kernan Sévigny
  • A Canadian Women's Army Corps parade.

    Corinne Kernan Sévigny
  • Corinne Kernan Sévigny and Captain Lucien Cote during a Victory Bonds campaign.

    Corinne Kernan Sévigny
  • Corinne Kernan Sévigny speaking over CKCV Radio, Quebec City.

    Corinne Kernan Sévigny
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"Day to day life was always evolving because of the physical, mental, and morale demands on the homefront population."

Transcript

My name is Corinne Kernan Sévigny, I was 19 years old when I enlisted in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, the CWAC, during the World War of 1939 to 1946. I had knowledge of the world, maybe even more so than most of the people around me, because I had even been to the United States for three years. I had even witnessed demonstrations - both for and against the war – and heard people talk about it. I spent the winter in Quebec City with the young people who were leaving for the war. And I learned that Canada had formed the CWAC, the Canadian Women’s Army Corps. I was young and I wanted to be part of the world because that was the world. Everyone was either for or against; they either worked for or against it. It was all that we had. I was interested in being part of the world. So that’s what I did, I enlisted. When I joined, apart from being Bell operators, clerks, secretaries and treasurers in the banks or nurses… I have a hard time thinking of what other big opportunities there were for women. The men had gone, so there was no one to do their jobs. So the women did them. All of a sudden, their husbands or their boyfriends were forced to say “she’s the one who replaced me”. They were forced to admit it – not just to say it, but to admit it. I think that is really when the admission came about; that women could do something or be something other than what they had always been - could take their place, if you will - while we were shoring up for war. We learned that we had an acceptable and useful place in the world we lived in. The war changed Canada because Canada grew up, matured and understood how to occupy its place in a new world. Nothing was happening in the world that we knew without it being somehow attached to the war. For example, if you needed pencils, and all of the pencils were being sent to England that month, then there wouldn’t be any pencils in the stores. Everyday life was a new life due to the physical, mental and moral demands that were being placed on the population that remained in Canada. Being separated from their families and not being able to help them, protect them or support them anymore was one of the big problems for the men because they were facing death, and they knew it. Everyone in the entire world has to accept that their great-grandfathers, their grandfathers and their fathers inherited a magnificent country.
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