PETAWAWA— Sapper Mason Dugas of Little Current got his military start through the Manitoulin Sea Cadets, which he joined at age 12.
“A friend I made when my family moved to Little Current told me about cadets and I joined,” Sapper Dugas told The Expositor. “It was a lot of fun. I had some excellent experiences, learned new skills, travelled, gave back to the community and met new people—it was great.”
Sapper Dugas’ experience in the cadets prompted him to consider a military career, choosing to join the Canadian Army at age 18.
“Cadets gave me a good head start,” shared Sapper Dugas. “Sea Cadets is navy, but I learned a lot of skills, drills etc. that helped prepare me.”
Once Sapper Dugas was sworn in, he travelled to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec for basic training before being posted to Gagetown, New Brunswick for 16 weeks of training as a combat engineer (sapper). Once he graduated from his course he was posted to Petawawa as a combat engineer.
“Sappers do a variety of military engineering tasks from demolition, creating road obstacles, clearing minefields and the construction of foreign operating bases,” explained Sapper Dugas. “My typical day starts at 7:30 am with physical training, followed by reporting back to the unit for jobs. Today we did cleaning around the compound, cutting trees. We also do exercises such as our recent two weeks in the field putting our skills to the test.”
Sapper Dugas says he loves being in the military and how his job challenges him.
“Sometimes you are running on little sleep, doing tasks in the rain and the cold, but you push yourself through it,” he said. “It’s also great being part of a good team.”
Sapper Dugas isn’t the first sapper in the family. “My great grandfather was a sapper in WWI and fought in Passchendaele and Vimy Ridge. My grandfather also served as an aircraft mechanic in WWII. I wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
This Remembrance Day Sapper Dugas will be part of the parade in Deep River.
“Remembrance Day to me is about honouring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice,” he concluded. “It is about respecting and honouring those who fought to make Canada what it is today.”