An Indigenous Reservist’s fulfilling career: Chief Warrant Officer Albert Boucher
By Jeff Pelletier, Army Public Affairs
Kingston, Ontario – When most of your family has served in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), it seems probable that you might also join. That is exactly what Chief Warrant Officer Albert Boucher did 35 years ago.
Originally from Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, CWO Boucher joined his local Army Reserve unit, the North Saskatchewan Regiment, at the age of 17 while still in high school. He is now the Divisional Reserve Sergeant-Major of 3rd Canadian Division.
After three and a half decades of service, CWO Boucher was honoured and recognized as a Member of the Order of Military Merit (M.M.M.) on June 29, 2018 in Quebec City. “I’ve always found the infantry and the Army to be challenging and it has kept my interest from the very beginning,” CWO Boucher said.
Some of CWO Boucher’s career highlights include field training exercises in Canada, training in Europe and deployments overseas. His experiences in Afghanistan include two military tours in 2004 and 2008, and a position as a civilian contractor in 2009. He was also Sergeant Major of 38 Canadian Brigade Group from 2013 to 2016.
“In 2008 when I was the Camp Sergeant Major of Kandahar Airfield, we conducted Ramp Ceremonies for our Fallen, a sad honour to be a part of,” he said. “The military is like a superb machine in operation,” he said. “To see Canadians, good Canadian women and men deployed overseas, with Canadian values, trying to make a difference – it’s fantastic to see.”
CWO Boucher serves part-time with the Army Reserve and works full-time with the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC). Currently, he is a manager at CSC’s National Training Academy in Kingston, Ontario. He has also worked as a deputy warden and as a correctional manager.
In his leisure time, he enjoys skydiving and BASE jumping. BASE jumping involves leaping from a high location and parachuting to the ground. BASE stands for the four categories of places jumped from – building, antenna, span (bridge) and earth (cliff).
CWO Boucher comes from Métis ancestry. His family stayed close to their traditions through activities such as family gatherings and hunting around St. Louis, Saskatchewan.
“We’d always go back to the homestead in St. Louis,” he said. “Lots of typical fiddle, banjo, guitar, we sang songs – it was a very traditional Métis Sunday gathering that we would have throughout my childhood.”
CWO Boucher and his family have made extensive contributions to the CAF and Canadian history. His brothers and father have been members of the military in some capacity along with uncles who served in the Second World War.
CWO Boucher’s great-grandfather, Jean-Baptiste Boucher, was a member of the Provisional Government of Saskatchewan, led by Louis Riel. Three of CWO Boucher’s great-uncles fought alongside Riel in the 1885 North-West Rebellion.
Additionally, the late John B. Boucher, member of the Métis Senate of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan was one of CWO Boucher’s cousins. A former Métis elder and an Order of Canada recipient, Senator Boucher became known for presenting a Métis sash to then-President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela during his 1998 visit to Ottawa, Ontario.
“My family history has always been important to me and has influenced my reasons for joining and staying in the military,” he said. “I am proud of my ancestry.”
According to CWO Boucher, the military environment is very accepting to Indigenous people, especially in his regiment. In particular, the outdoor activities that come with military training and exercises embraces what he sees as a traditional Indigenous lifestyle.
“It’s being out there, living with the land, just being in nature and aware,” he said. “First Nations and Métis people grew up with the land, at least those that have lived in a traditional environment. For those that have not, they will learn. It’s just such a smooth transition. That’s why some of our outstanding soldiers are First Nations and Métis.”
Over the years, the Department of National Defence has adapted its policies to create a more inclusive environment for Indigenous members. For example, Métis sashes and hair braids are now authorized for wearing while in uniform. CWO Boucher acknowledges that he comes from a unit that has always been welcoming and accepting.
“The Army is vary adaptive. It grows, and it learns and it changes,” he said. “People need to be aware that it’s a wonderful organization.”
He has a simple piece of advice for Indigenous youth considering the CAF as a career: “Join.”
“Learn as much as you can, take as many courses as you can,” he said. “It’s a fantastic career.”
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