By Graham Isador  

“Nate” is a YouTuber based out of Martensville, Sask. He’s best known by the moniker Canadian Prepper, the name of his popular channel, which to date boasts more than 250,000 subscribers. On his channel, Nate offers viewers insight into various survival techniques, like putting together a selection of non-perishable food, storing water and aspects of self-defence.

He’s part of a prepping movement that has been embraced by communities around the world, three of which are featured in Preparing for Armageddon, a documentary from The Passionate Eye.

Canadian prepper: We’re too reliant on technology

Nate is a prominent voice in the Canadian prepping movement, wherein individuals ready themselves for periods when the necessities of modern life — including electricity, technological communication and fresh food — are unavailable. For Nate, becoming a prepper was a response to individuals’ growing dependency on societal structures.

“I just realized that the more technologically advanced society becomes, the more people are removed from where their food and water comes from,” he says. “This is only going to continue as we become more urbanized. For me, [starting to prep] was an insurance policy. A lot of people don’t realize how dependent they are on the critical infrastructure for meeting their basic everyday needs.

“Where I live, if there was ever a prolonged power outage in the wintertime, it would be a catastrophic situation,” he continues. “I’m not a Luddite or technologically opposed, but it’s not a bad idea to have a safety net.”

Nate’s goal for the Canadian Prepper YouTube channel is not only to showcase survival techniques but to look at the psychological ideas behind prepping and advise those interested in the movement on how to get started. He also started the channel to meet like-minded people and discuss his passion for preparedness.

Nate believes the success of Canadian Prepper, which now has an online store, can be attributed to his more moderate position in a movement that’s often politically extreme.

“Preparedness tends to be a politically charged thing. It tends to be a more conservative practice for whatever reason,” he says. “I try to bring a more moderate stance on things. [My channel] focuses on the scientific reasons for why preparedness makes sense … while I do welcome some healthy political debate, I don’t like bringing political and religious biases into the conversation. My goal is to create a broader appeal and make the idea of prepping seem less out there.”

In Preparing for Armageddon, we meet three prepper communities in the U.S. that are preparing for a global disaster. Many in the American prepping movement share common political convictions. They store supplies to safeguard themselves against the potential failure of government, and are typically concerned with issues such as national safety and economic stability.

Visit a basement bunker, where one couple has enough food stored to last a very long time.

Some have identified the movement’s boom period after 2008 as a response to fears associated with the Obama administration. The number of preppers has reportedly declined with the election of current U.S. president Donald Trump.

Prepping in Canada becoming more mainstream

In Canada, prepping is still not as prominent as it is in the United States. But The Globe and Mail reports that the movement has slowly been seeping into the mainstream: bulk retailer Costco now sells survival-oriented gear, and the Canadian Preppers Network blog receives more than 20,000 hits each month.

The article suggests that this new interest in prepping can be attributed in large part to uncertainty around natural disasters.

During a catastrophic event, emergency services and expert assistance may be unavailable for an extended period of time, meaning individuals might need to be self-reliant for their own safety and wellbeing. While this may seem like a radical possibility to consider for some, recent disasters like the Fort McMurray wildfires and major flooding in Quebec have highlighted the importance of disaster preparedness, and how necessary emergency planning and supplies can be.

A plethora of information on disaster prep exists online, but a survey commissioned by Public Safety Canada showed that 59 per cent of Canadian respondents had never prepared a family emergency plan, and 60 per cent hadn’t gathered or purchased items for an emergency kit (nearly a third of respondents believed they would never need to use one). 

The federal government has put together a website documenting the various ways people can prepare for extreme weather and hazardous situations. Get Prepared walks Canadians through the basics of making an emergency plan and putting together a kit with supplies for at least 72 hours. The site also contains recommendations for how to respond to specific emergencies and hazards, including extreme cold, floods, pandemics and more.

Here are some essential items that Nate recommends having on hand to prepare for emergencies:

A water storage unit: The ability to store and collect water is essential in certain emergency situations. Nate notes that you can purchase buckets or drums that store more than 200 litres of liquid. These can be filled with water from a hose, rainwater or even snow.

Freeze-dried food: Freeze-dried food can last for up to 25 years. It has more than 95 per cent of the moisture taken out, Nate explains, but when you add water it maintains a lot of its texture and flavour, and even tastes good. It’s the same type of food consumed by astronauts during missions.

A propane heater: In Canada, you’ll need a way to heat a small space in colder seasons. Propane heaters are preferable over kerosene heaters, according to Nate, because they tend to be less volatile. A 20-lb tank of propane will fuel a heater for days.