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What makes a 'Van Doo' different?

During the First World War, Canada decided to create a military unit that would represent its French-speaking population. As soldiers and peacekeepers, the Royal 22nd Regiment – the famed "Van Doos" – have been among Canada's vanguard in both World Wars, and in hotspots that include Korea, Cyprus, Congo, Bosnia and East Timor. The distinct language and culture of the regiment have afforded unique opportunities, and posed frequent challenges.

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The Van Doos were created during the First World War to address a specific need: the lack of French-Canadian representation in Canada's fighting forces. Today, the Royal 22nd Regiment has a reputation and tradition as proud as any of Canada's military units. But is there still any benefit to maintaining a regiment formed on the basis of language and culture? The soldiers tell CBC Radio there is.
• At the time of this clip the Royal 22nd Regiment was stationed in Lahr, Germany (1st Battalion), La Citadelle in Quebec City (2nd Battalion) and CFB Valcartier (3rd Battalion.) The 1st Batallion returned to Canada in 1993 and is now also stationed at Valcartier.

• The Van Doos became paratroopers on Jan. 7, 1950.

• The mascot of the Royal 22nd Regiment band is a goat named Batisse. He is actually a rare Tibetan breed, descended from a goat given to Queen Victoria in 1844 by the Shah of Persia. In 1994, the regimental band fell victim to budget cuts, but Batisse remained. Each year new recruits must kiss Batisse on the mouth.

• There are many other military units in Canada with a history as long and brave as that of the Royal 22nd. They include the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (also created during the First World War), the Royal Canadian Regiment (raised in 1883), and the Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada (dating back to 1862.) All were involved in both world wars and are currently part of peacekeeping operations worldwide.
Medium: Radio
Program: Between Ourselves
Broadcast Date: Oct. 3, 1975
Host: Bob Harding
Reporter: Lou Craig
Duration: 6:35

Last updated: August 29, 2014

Page consulted on August 29, 2014

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