A U.S. army soldier who was ordered to leave Canada on Sept. 11 has been given asylum by a Vancouver church.
Rodney Watson of Kansas City had just returned from a deployment in Iraq in 2006 when the U.S. army extended his contract for three years. Watson said he felt he had served his time and that he wasn’t about to go back to a war he doesn’t agree with.
“The main thing was the disrespect for the people — some guys would have a bad day and they would just beat up on some Iraqi civilians,” Watson said.
He deserted three years ago and crossed the border into Canada, where he fell in love and became a father.
Since Sept. 18, he’s been living at the First United Church, where he was granted asylum.
Minister Ric Matthews said he believes there are significant reasons to welcome Watson to the church.
“We at First United Church are committed to and respectful to the law, while we also at the same time seek to be true to our calling to uphold justice and fairness in all its dimensions,” he said.
He added he believes Watson is the first Iraq veteran who has been given church asylum in Canada.
War resisters usually face prison time after deportation.