Montreal Reservists Helping Canadians on Operation LENTUS in British Columbia

Article / September 11, 2017 / Project number: 17-0137-bc-fires

By Joint Task Force (Pacific) Public Affairs from 2 Div Public Affairs

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Victoria, British Columbia — Two newly-trained Canadian Army Reservists have had a busy summer conducting Public Duties at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa and employed as Intelligence Operators supporting both flood and wildfire on opposite sides of the country under Operation LENTUS. Op LENTUS is the Canadian Armed Forces response to forest fires, floods and natural disasters in Canada.

Corporal Shanne Solarik and Corporal François-Olivier Lachaine’s current deployment to Operation LENTUS 17-04 at Joint Task Force (Pacific)’s (JTF(P)) Headquarters in Victoria, B.C. started with a phone call while both were on leave after completing their Primary Leadership Qualification (PLQ) in Valcartier, Quebec.

Corporals Lachaine and Solarik, both from 4 Intelligence Company in Montreal, were asked to deploy and reinforce JTF(P) due to the wildfire emergency in the province. As Reservists, they quickly accepted the rare honour to travel to the other side of the country and support their west coast colleagues. Within 48 hours of the initial call, they were on a plane bound for the West of Canada, where they had never set foot before.

Their stint in B.C. is just one of the tasks that the two Reservists have taken on this year. In April, both of them were in the City of Ottawa for Operation DISTINCTION, otherwise known as the National Sentry Program, during which they stood guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At the end of their last day in Ottawa, they were called back to their home unit to deploy directly on Operation LENTUS 17-03 during the flooding in Quebec. On May 8th, they deployed to Pierrefonds, Montreal, with 34 Canadian Brigade Group, headquartered in Montreal, Quebec.

Their deployment lasted two weeks, during which they provided the Brigade Commander and his staff with intelligence concerning the flooding in their area of operation. It was their first experience on an operation that had a direct impact on the lives of Canadian citizens. “That was my first operation and it was a great honour to help those in need and to serve my country”, said Cpl Solarik, remembering his time on Op LENTUS 17-03.

They now find themselves on the other side of Canada, no longer briefing on rising waters, but on the largest wildfire season in British Columbia’s history. The two corporals arrived at night on August 17, and reported to work at 5 a.m. the next morning to begin preparing themselves for their duties. “On the 19th, we were already briefing a room full of superior officers, including the acting-commander of JTF(P) and the Air Task force Commander and their senior staff. It was a very interesting experience. We never had such a high-ranking audience before. It shows how, as intelligence operators, we must be ready to analyze and disseminate information very quickly,” said Cpl Lachaine.

Although Reservists typically have full-time civilian jobs or are students, Cpl Lachaine and Cpl Solarik have cleared their schedule to assist their fellow Canadians. Their supervising officer, Captain Doug Thurber, notes the strong contributions Primary Reservist Intelligence Operators have made to this operation. “JTF(P) has been very fortunate to be augmented first by 6 Intelligence Company, and now 4 Intelligence Company. Both Cpl Lachaine and Cpl Solarik exemplify the role of the Primary Reservist – that is to be ready for and deploy in support of domestic operations. They are very keen soldiers, having deployed on back-to-back operations, and have stepped up to become junior leaders in between operations by completing their PLQ course. This is what good looks like!” said Capt Thurber.

Cpl Lachaine and Cpl Solarik intend to continue working as Reservists once Op LENTUS 17-04 ends, whether it be in Canada or overseas on another operational deployment.

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