Editor’s Note: The Canadian Forces Reservists are volunteers in the sense that all volunteered for this assignment but they will be paid for time on duty.
TORONTO — In just a few days, Canada will receive its first official wave of refugees from Syria.
Preparing for the influx is a massive operation that involves several government agencies, community groups, and our men and women in uniform.
There are five bases in Ontario and one in Quebec that will be housing thousands of Syrian families when they arrive in Canada.
When the call to help with the settlement process was put out, hundreds of soldiers stepped up to help.
In Toronto, 150 men and women from the 32 Canadian Brigade Group are stepping forward.
By doing so, they are taking time off from their jobs outside of the military, and also taking time away from their families.
But the soldiers told Global News this is their duty, part of the uniform and part of their mandate as Canadian soldiers.
“In my role as a Canadian reservist, it is my job to protect Canadian citizens — which these refugees are going to become. And as well it is usually our duty to be called out on very short notice to be called out from our daytime lives, school, work, wherever to help out wherever the need is,” said Master Bombardier Jeffery Roos, of the 56th Field Artillery Regiment.
“So the degree of people that came out on such short notice and the amount of logistical planning that had to go through is very impressive and I am honored to be a part of the Canadian military tradition in helping out this country and welcoming refugees.”
Many of the 150 soldiers in Toronto work in the military part-time, while maintaining full-time jobs.
Some are doctors, lawyers, engineers, while others aim to become police officers, work in construction, or are in teaching.
Master Corp. Tyler Brunton of Queen’s York Rangers works in construction.
He said his experience working onsite with a construction team will enhance his ability to help those Syrian families living at the base he is stationed at, adding that it all comes down to team work.
“Working as a team will be a key number one thing whether we are working with teams within the military as well as working with all the other government organizations to help assist with these families,” he said.
“We will be working as a team with the families to help them integrate into the community.”
The type of training these men and women have been going through is quite extensive because although the Canadian military has stepped forward to aid in the settlement of thousands of families, their exact role is still unclear.
Their jobs will be based on immediate needs and adapting to the changing scenarios they are expected to face each day and with each new wave of newcomers.
“Canadian Forces personal are adaptable. We are trained and we conduct training in order to ensure we can deploy on a multitude of operations, a full spectrum of operations,” said Lieut. Lawrence Blake of the 48th Highlanders of Canada.
“So whether that is fighting a war overseas or peace keeping missions or its domestic response operations.”
But the overall underlying motivation, aside from the duty as a soldier is the unconditional desire to help.
Some say it is just the Canadian way of doing things.
“It’s also my duty as being a nice Canadian to welcome newcomers to our country and keep the reputation going that Canada is a very open and welcoming place,” Roos said, in very Canadian terms.
In total Canada is expected to welcome over 25,000 Syrian refugees into this country by early 2016.