John Caldwell School teacher Roch Couturier military officer and leader

Article Posted: Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Not many New Brunswickers would prefer to spend their March break out in the cold. For Roch Couturier, a teacher at John Caldwell School in Grand Falls, Exercise Northern Sojourn is part of his regular spring break routine. As the Commanding Officer of the Royal New Brunswick Regiment, he leads a training operation in the cold and austere environment of Goose Bay, Labrador.

"For the last six years, soldiers from Atlantic Canada have been deployed to Goose Bay during March  break," said  Roch Couturier. "It is an exercise where soldiers test some equipment as well as their personal skills and leadership abilities."

Training activities this year included live fire range day and night, long range patrol, establishment of communication lines, sustainment, navigation and survival, while also working with army troops from the United States and Poland.

In his role, Couturier is responsible for the Arctic Response Company Group (ARCG), a reserve unit that would be deployed in case of a domestic operation (airplane crash, oil spill, flood, ice storm etc.).  Most soldiers from this unit come from New Brunswick and some are students and teachers.


Couturier is also the Land Command Component (LCC) Commander when the unit is deployed on operation. He joined the Canadian Armed Forces (Reserve) 32 years ago.  

"At first it was a summer job as a student, then it became a part time job when I started my teaching career," Couturier explained.

In his military career, Couturier serves as an Infantry Officer with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. As a teacher at John Caldwell School, he holds a Bachelor Degree in physical education and a Certificate V in technology and biology.


During the 2018 March break, the ARCG had a chance to bring visitors to Labrador in order to showcase what reservists are doing while they are deployed.  This program is called the Canadian Forces Liaison Council (CFLC) which gives employers, supervisors and human resources professionals a first-hand view of the quality of military training.  

Jay Colpitt​s, ASD-W's Director of Education for the Woodstock Education Centre, was part of the EXECUTREK program in Labrador in 2018 and spent a day with the unit. He had a chance to visit troops in the field, the live fire range, and also visited the headquarters responsible for coordinating the movement of troops in the field. 

A total of 350-400 soldiers participated in Exercise Northern Sojourn this year including the American and Polish troops.