Upon any disaster


SLt Matt Ladouceur
Team Rubicon Canada

Military ethos is ingrained deeply into every Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) member from basic training through our careers and even past retirement. That ethos lends support during tough times, puts us on a path to professionalism, and is the heartbeat behind every kind of decision we make in uniform. It does not leave us even when we eventually remove the uniform, and that is where Team Rubicon Canada started.

In the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, six U.S. Marine veterans set off to aid the disaster-stricken nation. With little support, they provided medical assistance to communities in the interior that other organizations had yet to reach, and around a campfire, they came up with what would become Team Rubicon. Later, in 2016, Team Rubicon Canada supported the Fort McMurray wildfire response, starting with food bank support and re-mustering into HAZMAT gear for heirloom recovery. After seven years with over one hundred missions served worldwide, the veterans and first responders remain committed to ensuring no one must face disaster alone.

Greyshirts from Team Rubicon Canada assist with debris management after Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas in 2019. Photo: Team Rubicon Canada

A day on an operation starts early: orders are cut, and trucks leave the forward operating bases by 0800. Kit squared away the day before for expedient home repair, remediation (mucking out), debris management, sawyer operations, or humanitarian aid is loaded and ready for use by ‘strike teams’. Simultaneously, command and general staff are busy at base coordinating orders for the next day, liaising with local authorities, and running logistics lines for a self-supported response. The day is long, and the work is hard, but the impact is felt by all, including the volunteers known as ‘Greyshirts’.

“Being a part of the Greyshirt community and finding a way to use my skills from the military to help people – it is soul food to give myself through Team Rubicon Canada to disaster survivors,” said Master Corporal (ret’d) Jeff Becker, National Training Manager.

Greyshirts come from every service branch and background, united by the call to service or a continuation of it. For them, Team Rubicon Canada is an outlet for purpose, community, and identity. Communities benefit during their worst weeks following the disaster, where Team Rubicon Canada can bridge the gap between an immediate emergency and long-term recovery. For Canada, the organization is a strong humanitarian force of over three thousand volunteers that integrate into more considerable response efforts using the Incident Command System framework.

Under blue skies, Team Rubicon Canada conducts training and service projects across Canada to generate and develop specific skillsets necessary in a disaster and connect to their communities. When grey skies come, Team Rubicon members are there before, during, and after the disaster in service to those communities. This was no more apparent than 2019 during the flooding in our National Capital Region. There, Greyshirts could be found on the ground sandbagging, mucking out homes, and in incident command centers working alongside municipal authorities and the CAF deployed on Operation Lentus.

On Vancouver Island, approximately 60 Greyshirts train and deploy these skills, most recently on Project Fair Catch. The service project involved mucking out homes after a flood displaced local community members, where three students onboard HMCS Venture worked with other Greyshirts on the recovery. Training continues on the Island with a campaign to create a section-strength team of chainsaw operators.

Greyshirts are fiercely independent, tenacious, and highly principled, so what brings them together is a mission much more significant than themselves. If fidelity in service is our uniform code, so must it last with us in retirement. That sense of ethos makes the Greyshirts of Team Rubicon Canada exemplary humanitarians, building a more resilient nation one disaster at a time.

To find out more, visit team-rubicon.ca

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