On March 7, with the death of C. G. (Giff) Gifford, the peace movement lost one of its most inspired and eloquent leaders.
In 1982, Giff mobilized a group of war veterans in Nova Scotia to speak out against Canadian complicity in the growing insanity of the nuclear arms race. That was the beginning of the national oganization known as VANA (Veterans Against Nuclear Arms), which has united more than 800 Canadian veterans in active struggle for a world without war. Giff held the post of Founding Chairman of the group.
Giff joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1941. He survived 49 bombing raids over Europe as a Pathfnder navigator and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He participated in the February 13, 1945 raid in Dresden, which resulted in 35,000 deaths on a city jammed with refugees from the Russian advance in the east. Forty years later in the anniversary of the event, he came back to Dresdan to meet with survivors of that night of horror, a visit recorded in Martin Duckworth's Return to Dresden, an NFB film.
Also, Gifford had a distinguished career as a social work practitioner, teacher, author, and university administrator. He taught at McGill, the University of Manitoba, and Dalhousie in Halifax. He retired in 1984 as Director of the Maritime School of Social Work, at Dalhousie. After retirement, VANA became his main interest, but he found time to author the book, Canada's Fighting Seniors, a chronicle of his personal manifesto for a better world.
Generous, gentle, but filled with a burning contempt for those who exploit others and for those who profit from war preparations, Giff was truly a person of great principle. But unlike many who throw up their hands in hopelessness, Giff had the energy, determination and plain guts to address the evils of war, poverty and despair, and to join in the struggle. Giff's passing was noted in many countries, with tributes flowing from veterans' peace organizations in Great Britain, the United States, Japan and elsewhere, from peace groups through out North America, and from the Canadian media.
The Family has asked that in memoriam gifts be made to VANA, P.O. Box 3B8, RR #1, Tantallon, N.S., B0J 3J0
Peace Magazine Jun-Jul 1993, page 31. Some rights reserved.
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