People & Culture

How South Sudanese child soldiers found a new life in Alberta

Episode 39

Former child soldiers who fought in Sudan during Africa's bloodiest civil war eventually found refuge in Canada — many of them in Brooks, Alta. Anthropologist, author and journalist Carol Berger shares their stories.

  • May 17, 2022
Carol Berger with Red Army veterans in Tonj, South Sudan, in 2006. The men, some of whom were trained in Cuba, were employed as de-miners by the British NGO Mines Advisory Group. (Photo courtesy Carol Berger)
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Content warning: This episode includes descriptions of violence and abuse experienced by children.

This episode is about the incredible journey of a group of new Canadians. Former child soldiers who fought in Sudan during Africa’s bloodiest civil war were shipped off to Cuba and finally found refuge in Canada — many of them in Brooks, Alta. 

Our guest is Canadian anthropologist and author Carol Berger, who spent 20 years gathering the stories of former child soldiers in South Sudan, East Africa, Canada and beyond, for her new book The Child Soldiers of Africa’s Red Army

Two million people died in Sudan’s Civil War from 1983 to 2005, a conflict that eventually led to the creation of a new nation, South Sudan. The tens of thousands of child soldiers made to fight in that war came to be known as the “Lost Boys.” As we discuss in this conversation, they were never really “lost,” but rather stolen by the same leaders who are now heading up the government of South Sudan, and who continue to press children into the conflicts that have flared up since.

As well as being an anthropologist and author, during the 1980s and 1990s, Carol Berger was a foreign correspondent based first in Khartoum, Sudan, and then later in Cairo, reporting for the BBC, The Guardian and The Economist. 

Born and raised in cattle country in southern Alberta, she now lives in the Egyptian capital.

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