A Voice For Animals


27 APRIL 2020 BLOG 12

Before the end of grade 12, I received a letter telling me that I had just been accepted into the Katimavik program. Katimavik offered a military option. I chose the one with the three months in the military option. When I had received a vision of being in British Columbia, I didn’t connect this vision with the military option.

            The military base was the Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt (CSB Esquimalt). CSB is Canada’s Pacific Coast naval base and home port to Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific Headquarters. I wasn’t part of any of that back then at the age of 18. I was there to learn. And that’s what I did. I learned. I was open to everything that was being taught to me. We spent most of these three months in basic training, and in learning navigation. Near the end of the three months, we spent a week at sea on a training ship. During our training, we had been exposed to various experiences in running a small boat, from peeling potatoes to navigating. I excelled at navigation. I loved it.

            The method used to train us was ‘the learner becomes the trainer’. For each task done the first time on the boat, I had to teach and guide the next person that was about to take my place. I had to do it in both French and English. Once we completed all of the tasks, we could select the task we wanted to do for the remainder of our sea voyage. I chose navigation. I spent the entire time outside, up on top, navigating. I loved it. I was learning how to lead and teach others. My superiors recognized this natural ability in me. I wasn’t even aware of it. I just knew that I was having fun. I was doing what I wanted to do, and what I enjoyed doing. I was out in the open air, looking at the sea, and the coast was lined with majestic forests, and porpoises were playing in the water. I wasn’t thinking about anything else.

            When I returned home to Cornwall, Ontario, I signed up with the Canadian Militia, with the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders (SD&G), an infantry unit. Before I go on, be assured that I had no interest in the military whatsoever previously. I didn’t see myself going into battle. What I chose to explore with the military was a way out of the poor unadventurous life that I had been living, and it was freeing! I did, however, have a deep sense of what it meant to be a soldier. I couldn’t explain it, but the connection and value of my life were not ignored as I knew my freedom. The life I enjoyed had been paved by those who sacrificed their lives so that I could live my charmed life.

            Soon after, I was fully engaged with the SD&G in administration. I had been tasked to learn how to use this particular handgun, separate from the rifle training that I had received. I spent time in the shooting range firing this gun. It was extremely uneventful. Even during the rifle training at the rifle range and playing good soldier and bad soldier in the field, I refused to ever point my rifle filled with blanks at anyone, even when I was ordered to do so.

            One day, I was informed that there was a new training program, where I would be responsible for writing and preparing training material, learning new skills, and attending training that would be carried out over the summer at the Petawawa Canadian Military Base.

            When I enquired about new program, I was told that it was what was then called an anti-tank 106 weapon. “What the heck is that?” I asked. It’s an M40 recoilless rifle. The M40 recoilless rifle is a lightweight, portable, crew-served 105 mm recoilless rifle that is primarily intended as an anti-tank weapon. It could also be used in an antipersonnel role with the use of an antipersonnel-tracer flechette rounds. “Hmm Hmm,” was my response. “Whatever that means.” I thought. Then I learned all about it. I wrote a training manual for our program, and I helped out with the training itself. I can’t even recall what I wrote or what I taught. All I remember is seeing myself being trained in the field and teaching others as well, obviously all under the supervision of my superiors, of course.