ExecuTrek: Windsor-Chatham employers and educators get hands-on experience with Army Reservists

Article / April 12, 2019 / Project number: 19-0101

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By Sub-Lieutenant Andrew McLaughlin, Public Affairs Officer, 31 Canadian Brigade Group

Meaford, Ontario – When an Army Reservist asks for time away from work, or for an extension on an assignment at their university or college, many times their supervisors or teachers are not sure why it is so important to support such requests.

It is very important to do so because Reservists are part-time soldiers who need time for training and must be ready to respond to events in Canada and sometimes abroad – but they also have regular jobs or educations to pursue.

It is critical that Reservists be combat-ready, here in Canada especially, where disasters such as floods or forest fires can strike without warning. To ensure they are available when needed, their employers and educators need to be fully informed.

That is where the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC)’s ExecuTrek Program comes in. The CFLC is a volunteer group of Canada-wide civilian business and educational leaders who promote the benefits of Reserve Force training and experience to civilians in the workplace.

The Council also supports individual reservists, as well as reserve units, in matters related to employer support.

ExecuTrek gives educators, employers, supervisors and human resources professionals a first-hand view of the quality of military training and the benefits that their organizations can gain from that training – trade skills, general work and management skills, values, work ethics and much more.

The goal is that, once an employer or teacher sees their employee or student at work in the Reserves, they may be more willing to give that person military leave without consequences to their civilian job or study.

From March 22 to 24, 2019, over a dozen community members from the Windsor-Chatham area were shown what their students and employees do when they ask for time off to serve Canada. The Essex and Kent Scottish (E&K Scots) took community members along for the weekend when they deployed to the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford, Ontario.

The training centre is located in Grey County, Ontario approximately 25 kilometres east of Owen Sound on a peninsula extending into Georgian Bay. It serves as a year-round training base for Reserve and Regular Force soldiers.  

Exercise SCOTTISH DEFENDER was a collective training exercise aimed at sustaining combat-capable units within the 4th Canadian Division (Ontario), and ensuring operational readiness in preparation for future operations. It was also aimed at introducing a select group of local leaders from the area to the Army Reserve through ExecuTrek. 

The exercise included live-fire weapons ranges using service rifles, machine guns and rocket launchers, and showcasing the types of activities that Army Reservists take part in while away from their regular jobs or studies.

Many of the soldiers’ employers and representatives from their educational institutions got hands-on with equipment – and face-to-face with the soldiers – while taking part in several activities including firing weapons, eating military rations and braving the environmental conditions of a weekend exercise.

One participant said she enjoyed the opportunity to interact with the troops, whom she said were “very well-trained, very well-spoken, very respectful, and very interesting people. I think it’s important for the community to see what Reservists actually do.”

The value of such a program was not lost on the Army leadership either. Colonel Chris Poole, Commander of 31 Canadian Brigade Group said that the exercise “not only demonstrated our ability to field capable and qualified infantry soldiers from the Windsor-Chatham area, but also helped us engage with key leaders from the area that the unit serves.”

“Programs like ExecuTrek are critical to building and maintaining strong relationships between our units across Southwestern Ontario and the communities they serve,” he added.

Lieutenant-Colonel John Hodgins, Commanding Officer of the E&K Scots, spoke to the importance of having the civilian guests from his unit’s community along for the weekend.

“The support that our Reserve soldiers receive from educators and employers in the Windsor-Chatham region is absolutely critical to them being available to respond to emergencies both in Canada, and around the world,” said LCol Hodgins.

Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce Mair, a regional CFLC rep who helped organize the event, agrees.

“One of our major roles is to respond to domestic emergencies,” he said. “We can’t predict those, obviously, so if it happens tomorrow, and our Reservists ask for time off, they’re out the door within 24 to 48 hours. So when an employer understands what it is a Reservist does, they’re perhaps more willing to say ‘yes, you can go’.”

Interested in participating in an ExecuTrek event? Educators, employers, supervisors and human resources professionals are encouraged to witness and/or participate in training events to see Reservists in action. They are chosen through nominations by their Reservist employees or students or by requesting an invitation from the Canadian Forces Liaison Council. Click the ExecuTrek link in Related Links for more information.

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