An average day at the office for uOttawa alum Marc Crivicich is spent 500 ft off the ground, often navigating dangerous weather conditions, and sometimes wearing night-vision goggles. As a search and rescue (SAR) helicopter pilot for the Canadian Armed Forces, he and his team are the last resort for people who need help and can’t be reached any other way.
On Monday, November 11, 2019, Crivicich will step away from his yellow CH-146 Griffon helicopter in Trenton to act as the keynote speaker at uOttawa’s Remembrance Day Ceremony.
A 35-year-old helicopter pilot is a departure from the older retired military vets who normally speak at this event, but uOttawa President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont says this is an opportunity to show a different side to military life in Canada.
“We want our community to remember the past, always. But it’s also important to see the current face of military, to know that missions are happening every day and for us to also pay homage to our younger vets and service people,” says Frémont.
Military is in his blood
For Crivicich military life wasn’t just a calling, but it runs in the family. One of his uncles was a commanding officer of the HMCS Fredericton and served in the Navy for more than 30 years, another was an air force navigator, his father was an army reservist, and his grandfather was a POW in WWII.
“You could say that I had a strong sense of service growing up,” he says. “From a family point of view, it felt like the right thing to do.”
Crivicich’s own military life began in 2006 as a maritime surface officer (MARS) in the Navy. His eyes shifted to the skies in 2013, and he spent the next three years flight training in both Moosejaw, Saskatchewan and Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.
All military life comes with risk
Currently a first officer, on his way to becoming a captain, Crivicich spends his days either training or conducting missions. He and his team have been involved in four major search operations this year, which involved either a downed plane or helicopter – along with many smaller rescue operations.
With a territory range that spans from great lakes to the top of the arctic circle, and from Saskatchewan to Quebec, he says that his team needs to be familiar with many different air and land conditions – and then, he says, add in night to all of those factors.
“Because of the nature of when people tend to have issues, we’re not always flying in the best circumstances and we’re trained to push ourselves and the helicopter crew to the limit to make sure we can conduct rescues for Canadians,” he says. “The motto for search and rescue technicians is ‘so that others may live,’ and we try to embody that.”
Remembrance Day is personal
A recent CBC article described Search and Rescue as one of the Canadian Military’s most dangerous jobs—which means that risk is a daily reality. Most recently a Search and Rescue Technician, Master Corporal Alfred Barr, died in a training accident during training near Yorkton Saskatchewan in March 2017.
“When we lose one member, especially when there’s only 140 SAR techs in all of the Canadian Armed Forces—that’s a big loss,” says Crivicich.
“Days like November 11th really mean a lot to us. It’s important for Canadians to know about those sacrifices and to really understand what it is that members are doing when they put on that uniform—whether they are serving abroad or domestically.”
November 11 still matters
The average age of WWII vets today is 93. While the numbers from this war are dwindling, as of March 31, 2018, Veteran Affairs Canada estimated the total Veteran population in Canada to be 649,300, consisting of 48,300 War Service Veterans and 601,000 Canadian Armed Forces Veterans.
“I would say that nowadays, more than ever, Remembrance Day is incredibly important. I think that the further we move away from the large battles like WWI and WWII it’s easy to forget the sacrifices that were made by the entire population, especially those that paid the ultimate sacrifice,” he says.
Monday, November 11, 2019, at 9:30 a.m.
Rotunda of Tabaret Hall
555 Cumberland Street, Ottawa, Ontario
Business or ceremonial attire with decorations.
The ceremony will be followed by a reception. RSVP here.