Sub commander goes outward bound


Commander Dave Mangin of the Canadian Submarine Force takes a break from paddling his kayak during an Outward Bound event near Grand Manan, New Brunswick in June 2014. Top right: Cdr Mangin hikes the Columbia Ice Fields during an Outward Bound expedition in August 2012.

Peter Mallett – Staff Writer

A senior commander with the Canadian Submarine Force will fulfill his dream this summer of paddling the waters of the far north’s South Nahanni River.

Commander Mike Mangin, Deputy Commander Operations of the Canadian Submarine Force, will be part of Outward Bound Canada’s 10-day canoe expedition on the scenic, but fast-moving river in the Northwest Territories.

The expedition is part of Outward Bound Canada’s Reach Beyond Fundraising Expeditions, which are a unique opportunity for people to achieve a personal aspiration while making a difference.

“Paddling the Nahanni River has been a life-long goal of mine and now that I’m getting close to the dates the excitement is mounting,” said Cdr Mangin.

After two days of preparation for the trip in Fort Simpson, N.W.T., the 12-person team, including two guides, will fly to Virginia Falls and set off in canoes on Aug. 5.

They plan to arrive at their destination at Nahanni Butte on Aug. 14 after covering a distance of approximately 240 kilometres. The fast-moving, white water course features several rapids and will take them through the Nahanni National Park Reserve and past the majestic Mackenzie and Selwyn Mountains.

Cdr Mangin, 50, began his career with Canada’s navy in 1991, and in his current job plans submarine operations and scheduling. His busy work schedule inhibited him from taking part in Outward Bound’s canoe training camp in the spring.

He also confesses to be a rookie paddler with limited experience in a canoe. Learning the mechanics and strokes of a canoeist is his biggest challenge, so he’s busy watching instructional videos on YouTube. 

The outdoor element, while breath-taking, will be plagued with relentless swarms of mosquitos and blackflies, he adds.

This journey will mark his fifth excursion with Outward Bound Canada since he first heard about the organization in 2011.

Founded in 1941 in Wales to provide survival skills for being lost at sea, Outward Bound has evolved into a non-profit with chapters around the globe. Its mandate is to build leadership and teamwork skills through specialized expeditions for civilians. Outward Bound also offers a weeklong adventure-based resiliency training Veterans program for those impacted by occupational stress injuries.

In addition to being a participant, Cdr Mangin has operated as a military liaison for an Outward Bound Veterans Program adventure. His role was twofold: helping adventure tour guides understand the needs of former military members, while at the same time offering reassurance to participants that someone who understands their culture was part of the group.

“The program puts former service members in small teams, something they have been used to working in for most of their careers,” said Cdr Mangin. “We are used to being reliant on each other, and for a lot of people who transition out of the military, they lose that structure and the idea of ‘if you have my back, I have yours’. During wilderness adventures like this, everyone on the team has a job to do and you need to work in teams like this to survive.”

His latest adventure is not specifically designed for military veterans, but rather is a fundraiser for Outward Bounds’ four support programs: Veterans, female victims of domestic abuse, at-risk inner-city youth, and Indigenous youth. His team will be made up of civilians from across the country and from all walks of life.

Cdr Mangin is paying the  out-of-pocket expenses for the trip but hopes to raise $6,000 to help support the funded programs through word of mouth and by crowd funding.

If you are interested in supporting his fundraising campaign visit his webpage at

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