Ernie Peaker with a photograph of himself when he first joined the Navy at age 17 - Cloe Logan photo

Ernie Peaker with a photograph of himself when he first joined the Navy at age 17 - Cloe Logan photo

Parksville man disheartened by notes on windshield saying he’s not a ‘real’ veteran

Anonymous messages at Parksville golf course said he should be ‘ashamed’ of special licence plates

Ernie Peaker joined the Canadian Navy in 1969 and spent 34 years serving — often at his base in Esquimalt, but also as far away as Cambodia.

So, when Peaker saw a note on his windshield admonishing him for his veteran licence plates this summer in Parksville, he felt disheartened.

“Well I was at my golf course and I finished playing golf… I noticed there was a piece of paper on the windshield and it wasn’t very nice,” he said. “Basically it said you should be ashamed for displaying these plates, you’re taking away from real veterans.”

It happened not once, but twice, at the golf course.

“Now I just take take the notes and put them in the garbage, I don’t think twice about it,” he said. “I’m quite comfortable about being a veteran.”

It’s part of a misconception, Peaker said, that veterans who served when he did didn’t see real violence — that they’re not “real” veterans. Peaker said not only did he experience traumatic things while in the Navy, but he had to spend a lot of time away — sometimes 200 days at sea a year, “especially in the early days.”

“You know some people think because you had been in the service for a period of time, but had never seen action, that you’re not a real veteran,” he said, while sitting at his kitchen table wearing a shirt with “Navy Marine” embroidered in yellow thread. “There’s veterans that never stepped outside of Canada and have never been put in harm’s way and they deserve the same respect because they served and they were ready to go at a moment’s notice.”

READ MORE: Meet the B.C. veteran who helped fight to recognize Remembrance Day

Peaker joined the Navy when he was just 17 years old. While looking at a photo of himself taken at the beginning of his service, he can’t help but laugh while looking at how young he looks.

“Still a kid, just hardly shaving,” he said.

In more than three decades of time spent serving in the Navy, Peaker went around the world several times. He was awarded the Order of Military Merit by the Governor-General, a Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal and other accolades for his service.

“I’ve served with the United Nations in Cambodia in 1992 for six months and in 2001, after 9/11, we were the first Canadian warship from Vancouver to go to the gulf with the American battle group,” Peaker said. “We spent seven and a half months over there.”

Peaker points to his time in Cambodia as something that stands out for him.

“We were the United Nations transitional authority in Cambodia after they ousted Pol Pot,” he said, referencing the Prime Minister responsible for the Cambodian genocide, which killed an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million people. “The things I saw over there, no body should have to see, the atrocities, it’s still in my mind.”

Still, when Peaker looks back at his storied career, he feels grateful to have had so much of his life spent in the Navy.

“I never had any bad days in the Navy, just some were better than others,” he said. “I say to my buddies, if we had two Navys, I would have moonlighted in the second.”

cloe.logan@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP were requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
UPDATE: missing woman found safe at residence

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

Randy Bell. File photo.
Former Smithers council candidate arrested for refusing to wear mask

Randy Bell handcuffed and given a warning at Bulkley Valley Credit Union

Salvation Army Christmas kettle campaign. File photo.
Kettle campaign delayed, kicks off Nov. 27

Salvation Army’s annual fundraiser to look different this year, thanks to COVID, tap option available

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

(Pixabay.com)
Man, 28, warned by Kootenay police to stop asking people to marry him

A woman initially reported the incident to police before they discovered others had been popped the question

Winston Blackmore (left) and James Oler (right) were sentenced on separate charges of polygamy this week in Cranbrook Supreme Court.
No more charges expected in Bountiful investigation, special prosecutor says

Special prosecutor says mandate has ended following review of evidence from Bountiful investigations

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Refuse to follow B.C.’s mask mandate? Face a $230 fine

Masks are now required to be worn by all British Columbians, 12 years and older

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

BC Teachers' Federation President Teri Mooring is asking parents of school-aged children to encourage the wearing of masks when possible in schools. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)
LETTER: Teachers union encourages culture of mask wearing in B.C. schools

BCTF President Teri Mooring asks parents to talk with children about wearing masks in school

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Pamela Wright, a UNBC professor in the department of ecosystem science and management, is presented with the Mitacs Award for Exceptional Leadership - Professor, at a virtual ceremony today (Nov. 24) in recognition of her collaborative work with community partners and students to conserve Canada’s northern lands. (Photo submitted by Mitacs)
UNBC professor receives prestigious conservation award

Pamela Wright recognized for leadership in ‘breakthrough’ work on northern issues

Most Read