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Building peace through education

August 18, 2011
By: 
Amy Dove

For Capt. Trevor Greene, peace is deeply rooted in education.

That is reflected in his military career and his continued push to help people living in conflict zones gain access to the education they need to improve their communities. For his outstanding contributions to international peace, security and stability, and for his steadfast determination in the face of adversity, Greene was awarded an honorary membership to the School of Peace and Conflict Management at Royal Roads University.

Prior to 2006, Greene was considering attending the university but that year, while on tour in Afghanistan, his life changed in an instant. An officer of the Civil-Military Co-operation Unit in Afghanistan he was routinely meeting with local elders to discuss ways of improving the lives of people in the community. His focus was to empower people to help themselves, and he remains deeply proud of Canada's role there.

"I am proud of my service in Afghanistan and I am proud of Canada," Greene said. "It is not a lost cause."

During one of these meetings, Greene was attacked by an axe-welding 16-year-old after he removed his helmet as a sign of respect toward the elders. Greene defied all odds by surviving the transfer to the hospital and continues to do so throughout his recovery. After five years of intense therapy and multiple surgeries, he is regaining mobility in his limbs with the ultimate goal of walking. Today, Greene is home in Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island, with his wife Debbie and daughter Grace.

With the same passion he approached his work overseas with, Greene is now focused on the Vancouver Foundation/Greene Family Education Initiative, which aims to educate and train teachers in conflict zones, particularly aimed at creating opportunities for women in Afghanistan.

The foundation was made possible by an unexpected $100,000 gift from late Vancouver property owner James Motherwell last year.

"The key to peace is education," Greene said. That was a message he brought to Afghanistan when he met with elders, although often they laughed at the mention of educating women.

While the honorary membership isn't the degree Greene was originally considering, it is recognition for his achievements and sacrifices, said Alex Morrison, director of the School of Peace and Conflict Management. This is the first honorary membership the school has granted, and the decision was supported by the entire faculty and staff, he added. It extends an invitation to Greene to partake in school functions.

 "He served his country honorably and well," Morrison said. "We thought it would be good to acknowledge what he did for Canada."