Kitchener-Waterloo

The face of the modern military: 4 Cambridge fusiliers on why they enlisted

Four current members of the Canadian military living in our community tell their story of why they joined and what the day means to them.

4 members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada on joining and remembering

Capt. Mark Richardson, Cpl. Mugwa Manikwa, Cpl. O Nafeese and Cpl. Brittany Gulic, all four current members of the Royal Highland Fusiliers, tell why they joined the Canadian military and what Remembrance Day means to them. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

The past wars and sacrifices of Canadian soldiers are always on the minds of members who serve with the  Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada (RHFC) and it's what inspired them to join and train for deployment wherever Canada needs them.

Remembrance Day may get people thinking of an aging veteran who fought in a long ago war.

CBC K-W spoke to four current members of the Canadian military living in our community and listened to them tell their story of why they joined and what Remembrance Day means to them. 

Capt. Mark Richardson

Capt. Mark Richardson was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 as a member of the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team. That role, he says, was focused on helping to build the capacity of the Afghan National Army, with the intent of them looking after their own security affairs for when Canada and NATO had left that country. 

"It was a very unique experience getting to go to a country as different from Canada as Afghanistan is," said Richardson. 

Soldier stands on a balcony over a gym where other soldiers stand at attention.
Capt. Mark Richardson joined the military as a way to serve his community. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

"But with that, it was very enriching learning about another culture and serving alongside the Afghan soldiers that represented the different parts of that country. It's a very complex environment, in that you have different cultures representing different ethnicities and backgrounds within their own country."

Captain Richardson says he joined the military because he saw it as a way to give back to his community.

"I think it's important that people reflect on the history of men and women in Canada that sacrificed and contributed whatever they could to better this country, to support less fortunate people in other countries. And that is continuing today honorably with women and men across the country that continue to sign up that continue to serve."

Cpl. Mugove Manikwa

Soldier stands on guard before two service flags at the Cambridge Armoury.
Cpl. Mugove Manikwa came to Canada from Zimbabwe in 2006 and joined the military less than 10 years after arriving on Canadian soil. (Joe Pavia/CBC)

Cpl. Mugove Manikwa wanted to give back to his community and the country he now calls home. He first entered Canada in 2006 and says it was important for him to serve the country that he now calls home.

"I migrated from Zimbabwe to Canada. I went to Conestoga College and I was doing a diploma in accounting there and then in 2015 I started my application," said Manikwa.

"Remembrance Day, regardless of where you are, the war impacted everybody in the world and for me it's just remembering those who gave their lives to do what we are doing now."

Cpl. O Nafees

Being deployed doesn't always mean being sent off to war; members of the military can be deployed to either international or domestic conflict.

Local reservists have been called to aid in humanitarian efforts such as floods and major fires.

Cpl. O Nafees was a part of Operation Laser, the armed forces response to the pandemic. He joined the military in March of 2019 — a year before the pandemic.

"My father died very shortly after I finished basic training. I had other people that were experiencing difficulties as well during that early part of the pandemic. And then trying to help them, that in itself was for me something to remember and very close to home."

Corporals O Nafeese and Brittany Gulic have been with the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada under10 years. (Joe Pavia)

Corporal Nafees became involved after participating as a parent helper in his son's cadet program. He met many reservists who encouraged him to join. So he did and says its been a fulfilling experience.

"I meet people from previous conflicts that we've participated in even after World War II and some of them are in this unit," said Nafees.

"Afghanistan was as part of our battle honours in this unit and there's many veterans from Afghanistan here and they're my teachers here as well and I remember them while they're here."

Cpl. Brittany Gulic

Cpl. Brittany Gulic of Kitchener has been with the Royal Highland Fusiliers since 2017. She signed up for a recruitment program when she was a student at St. Mary's High School.

"Growing up I didn't really have any military in my family. But in school I do remember every Remembrance Day having that moment of silence and being younger, I never thought that I would be here today. So it's a great honour to be here and to stand with my brothers and sisters."

Gulic, a young mother, has not yet been deployed to service but, along with her mates she takes part in regular training exercises to prepare her for when the call comes.

"I'm learning a little bit of everything. I've done a lot of leadership this past summer," said Gulic.

"I'm part of the mortar platoon, so we had a live fire in Meaford. So we left on the Friday and slept there in the trucks or the field for the night and then Saturday morning woke up, went to the range and were able to shoot some live mortars."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Pavia

Reporter/Editor

Joe Pavia is a Reporter/Editor with CBC K-W 89.1 FM. He's normally heard weekdays on The Morning Edition but also covers a wide range of news and feature stories for both radio and web. If you have a story idea, email Joe at Joseph.Pavia@cbc.ca Follow him on twitter @PaviaJoe1964

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now