Canadian Forces Chaplains train African colleagues in Botswana

Chaplain Development Course with Botswanan soldiers and Major Askew instructing
Chaplain Development Course with Major Askew instructing. Photo: Commander Carol Bateman

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By Commander Carol Bateman

In January, the Canadian Forces Chaplain School and Centre (CFChSC) sent a team to Gaborone, Botswana to deliver a Chaplain Development Course.

Commander Carol Bateman, Major Catherine Askew, and Lieutenant (Navy) Eloi Gunn worked under the guidance of School Standards Officer Captain Rachad Khadij to develop the program, pulling elements of training from all courses offered at CFChSC.

The class included a diverse profile of participants from Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Sierra Leone, with the bulk of the class coming from the host country of Botswana. They held ranks of Captain, Major, Lieutenant-Colonel and Warrant Officer. They varied in faith traditions from Anglican, Pentecostal, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Seventh Day Adventist, Roman Catholic and Muslim.

Each country had the opportunity to present on the chaplaincy programs of their armed forces and the challenges they face. Among them, challenges of deployment, counselling members and families, and dealing with operational stress injuries were common for all countries. In the African context, child soldiers and pluralism present unique challenges.

Training took place at the Botswanan Defence Force (BDF) Headquarters in Gaborone. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Chaplain team displayed the variety of uniform, gender and religious diversity found in the CAF. Each chaplain was able to speak from their experience, and Cdr Bateman and Maj Askew were on hand as subject matter experts for pluralism and pastoral counselling, respectively.

The course incorporated a trip to local religious houses of worship including a mosque and a Hindu temple. The group also took advantage of a visit to the Animal Training Park within the BDF compound, which is designed to train awareness of wildlife amongst BDF soldiers.

The head of the BDF Land Forces commended CFChSC for the program, which concluded with a graduation ceremony attended by the Canadian Military Attaché in Pretoria, South Africa, Col Darwin Ziprick.

Image gallery

  • CAF and BDF members at an animal park in Botswana
  • A CAF member talks to two BDF members
  • Chaplain Development Course with Botswanan soldiers and Major Askew instructing
  • Class photo with participants and instructors of the Chaplain Development Course in Botswana
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