Canada's civilians leaving Afghanistan
A Canadian Forces soldier hands food to Afghan children during an early morning operation into the village of Haji Baran Afghanistan, on June 4, 2011. (Combat Camera / Sgt. Matthew McGregor)
Published Monday, June 20, 2011 2:39PM EDT
BAZAAR-E-PANJWAII., Afghanistan - Canada's civilians in Kandahar have started pulling out of Afghanistan.
In addition to the Canadian soldiers who are leaving next month, some 75 civilians responsible for the mission's diplomatic and developmental programs are also heading home.
Joffre Leblanc, one of a handful of gutsy civilians working alongside the military outside the wire, spent much of the last year in the Panjwaii district as a district stabilization officer.
He says he leaves Afghanistan with a sense of hope.
Leblanc's job was to help tie together the often incoherent Afghan government with local residents in far-flung regions.
He says he's watched over the last 11 months as villagers have started to show up at district meetings to demand services for the first time.