First Nations bombardier trains team of Gunners for 101st Nijmegen Marches

Article / July 14, 2017 / Project number: 17-0186

By: Captain Nicholas Kaempffer,Combat Training Centre  

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Oromocto, New Brunswick — Day in, day out, Bombardier Dakota Don Williams, a First Nations Canadian Army member, is training with a team of Gunners from The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery School (RCAS), who will depart in July to the Netherlands to participate in the 101st annual International Four Days Marches Nijmegen.

With a gruelling 730 kilometres of preparatory training required to ensure participants can complete the four-day, 160-kilometre event while carrying 10 kilograms, Bdr Williams is working hard with his peers to condition themselves for this prestigious annual occurrence.

The Marches always start on the third Tuesday of July at dawn. This year’s event begins July 18 and ends July 21.

Once the workup training is complete, Bombardier Williams and the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery (RRCA) team will join the 200+ member contingent from across the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), who will conduct the 40-kilometre daily marches.

Hailing from Terrace, British Columbia and a proud member of the Tahltan First Nation, Bdr Williams is currently employed as a Light Armoured Vehicle driver within W Battery’s Artillery Tactics Group at 5th Canadian Division Support Base Gagetown. Starting his career in artillery in the Canadian Army (CA) in 2011, Bdr Williams has enjoyed a challenging career as a member of the RCAS.

The Nijmegen Marches will mark the second time he has travelled internationally with the CAF, as he completed an exchange with the New Zealand Defence Force in 2012. Rightfully proud of his Aboriginal heritage, Bdr Williams has worked closely with Indigenous youths as a mentor with the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program, where he was embedded during a three week experience designed to provide insight and awareness into the rewarding careers offered by the Army and the CAF.

Speaking about his career thus far with the CA, Bombardier Williams stated, “as an Observation Post Detachment Member, every day is a challenge, as we need to be physically fit, tactically sound, and technically proficient – there really is no job like it.

He continued, “I am really looking forward to representing Canada and my First Nation during the annual Nijmegen Marches, which will be an amazing experience. I am committed to continuing a constructive engagement with fellow Indigenous Canadians as a member of the CAF, as I know that the values of my community and that of the military are so closely linked.”

The International Four Days Marches Nijmegen in the Netherlands is celebrating 101 years of tradition in 2017. With over 50,000 civilians as well as military participants from over 50 nations converging to test their physical and mental mettle, the CAF has proudly participated since 1952.

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