When an unexpected friendship ends in a life project

June 29, 2021 - Defence Stories


Pte Jacques and Pte Boisvert at their end of course parade on June 10th.

Life throws many things at us and sometimes we find ourselves pleasantly surprised. Such was the experience of two candidates at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS) who just finished their Basic Military Training (BMQ). Although both from Quebec City, Pte(R) Maribelle Boisvert and Pte(R) Karolane Jacques only met each other upon arrival at CFLRS, where they quickly became good friends.

Documenting Their Journey

Inspired by a group discussion with the CFLRS Commandant, they decided to document their experience, without filters, including all the ups and downs with a single goal in mind: breaking stereotypes. As much as they are conscious of the evolving CAF image, the two also recognize that sometimes this change and the current status is not clear or adequately represented to the general public and as such, used their free time to discuss, reflect and write down events, observations and apprehensions

“I walked towards the door, bags in hand. The first instructor talked to me and I was so impressed! I had to go into a classroom to get my bags checked by the sergeant in charge of my section. He scared me initially, but turned out to be the best instructor one could have. When he started talking to me, I told myself: ‘what? He isn’t mean?’ He then showed me how to move my arms and told me: ‘From now on, you will march this way everywhere at all times’” – Pte(R) Maribelle Boisvert

Subsequently, they reached the last week of BMQ with many memories of challenges, defeat and triumph, highly representative of the realities of a candidate at CFLRS.

Change in vision and good surprises

Enrolling into the CAF was a long and complex process for Pte(R) Karolane Jacques. Indeed, it took her ten years of reflection, tinged by a strong reluctance from her entourage who were probably tainted by the stereotypical image of a woman in the CAF. This image impacted her choice for a long time. However, pushed by a stronger will, she finally enrolled and experienced a BMQ far from what she expected.

“Driving to the garrison seemed surreal, I had yet to realize that I was going there. When I saw the building for the first time, I was in shock. My heart started beating faster and my body was trembling. I did not have the courage to enter so I went back to roaming in town for an hour before coming back” – Pte(R) Karolane Jacques

Pte(R) Karolane Jacques and her fire team partner Pte(R) Maribelle Boisvert discovered an unexpectedly comprehensive course with personnel always ready to listen, help and support the candidates to encourage their learning and their success. They found that the course is well built, structured and easy to follow, while also reinforcing that you can simply be yourself and achieve success. Obviously, the course remains demanding and full of adversity. Another positive aspect was omnipresent comraderie and encouragement. The internal platoon dynamics, favoured by a healthy learning culture were crucial to the success of both candidates.

Women in the CAF

It is this image and view of both the CFLRS and the CAF that these two candidates hope to share. Armed with their newfound knowledge, memories and their friendship, Pte(R) Boisvert and Pte(R) Jacques hope to encourage more women to enroll, to encourage them to rise up to the challenge and embrace a military experience they found to be transformative; Pte(R) Boisvert would go as far as to say that it was the best decision of her life. With systemic culture change occurring within the CAF, women and visible minorities have more and more space to thrive and to be valued.

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