Opportunity knocks for a Grey Wolf

Article / February 08, 2024 / Project number: 24-0201

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By Lieutenant (Navy) Andrew McLaughlin, Public Affairs Officer, 33 Canadian Brigade Group

Pembroke, Ontario — Private Marissa Gutzeit didn’t know there were Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) programs specifically designed for Indigenous Peoples. She did know she wanted to serve her country, and her community.

The Grey Wolf program provided those opportunities, and more.

Grey Wolf is a unique military training program that combines Indigenous culture and teachings with military training, and develops other valuable skills such as self-discipline, teamwork, time management, and fitness.

The eight-week program runs annually from July through August, with recruits enrolled as members of the CAF. Upon completion, they have the option to continue to serve part-time with an Army Reserve unit close to their homes, or transfer into the Regular Force.

“I heard about the program through my recruiter,” says Pte Gutzeit. “I followed through with it as it gave me the chance to meet new people, as well as experience being away from home.”

“The program also gave me the ability to complete my Basic Military Qualification (BMQ) and learn from other individuals with Indigenous backgrounds and practise my own culture.”

Once she arrived at 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford, Ontario, the realities of a CAF career became clear.

“It was challenging at first, but that’s what I expected, and wanted,” she says.

The positive aspects of service quickly presented themselves as well though, as the Grey Wolf recruits quickly formed new bonds, and began to work as a team.

“The best part of Grey Wolf was the people around. The camaraderie of the platoon and the mentorship of the staff,” Pte Gutzeit says. “Our course instructors were amazing. They put a lot of time and effort into teaching, and always had great advice and stories from their experiences.”

She soon saw the potential for a rewarding career.

“I was surprised by the amount of opportunity there is in the Army Reserve through the Grey Wolf program. It opens up a lot of doors for candidates in both the Reserve and Regular Force.”

Pte Gutzeit enjoyed the action and adventure on the course.

“We learned to rappel, participated in explosives demos, rode assault boats and even had the opportunity to work with and learn from Canadian Rangers.”

She fondly recalls the Grey Wolf graduation ceremony and hearing the names of each of her new friends, as well as her own.

“I was so nervous, but I realized how proud this made me; to have completed the challenge of BMQ.”

Her journey didn’t end there: new opportunities and friendships awaited back at her home unit, 42nd Field Artillery Regiment (Lanark and Renfrew Scottish), in Pembroke, Ontario, where she’ll serve part-time while enjoying benefits like tuition reimbursement, full-time summer employment, and more paid training.

“It’s been a great experience, and I’ve already made life-long friendships from it.”

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