By Second Lieutenant Natasha Tersigni, 38 Canadian Brigade Group Public Affairs
Winnipeg, Manitoba — Operation RADIO SANTA is certainly a no-fail mission for members of 38 Canadian Brigade Group (38 CBG) as soldiers visit hundreds of excited elementary school children in Ontario and western Canada to make sure they can talk to Santa Claus during the week of December 3 to 8, 2018.
Over the past 37 years, 38 Signal Regiment (38 Sig Regt), a 38 CBG Army Reserve communications regiment, has been visiting elementary schools in their communities to ensure that children have chance to talk with Santa Claus via military radio. The regiment is able to cover four cities in three provinces with squadrons based in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; as well as Regina and Saskatoon, both in Saskatchewan.
Community outreach via mobile command post
This year, members of 38 Sig Regt, who specialize in establishing medium- and long- range radio networks for Canadian Armed Forces use in Canada and abroad, will visit about 30 local schools across the four cities to give students the opportunity to communicate with Santa through military radios. Along with having a chance to dictate their Christmas lists over the radios to the North Pole, the students will also tour the mobile command post, have a chance to see different kinds of military equipment and ask soldiers questions.
For 38 Sig Regt Acting Commanding Officer Major Evelyn Kotzer, Op RADIO SANTA is an key event that helps to educate the public about the work the Army Reserve communications regiment does throughout the year.
“This community initiative is extremely important to the Signal Regiment as it provides community exposure. A dispersed unit, having squadrons in Winnipeg, Regina, Thunder Bay and Saskatoon, it is 38 Signal Regiment’s opportunity to reach into our local communities and let them know that we exist,” said MajKotzer.
“Op RADIO SANTA provides our cities and surrounding areas with the knowledge that there is an Army unit that provides a unique skillset: radio and data communications, for international and domestic response,” she said, adding that students like to learn about careers offered in the Canadian Armed Forces.
Current soldiers took part in Operation RADIO SANTA as children
“When we consider the 37-year tradition of this community relations event, there are probably soldiers in our ranks who have experienced the joy of speaking to Santa because of our visit to their school 10 or 20 years ago. Engagements such as these are a key component in sparking the joy of the season, but also, an interest in a possible military career.”
Unique Training Opportunity
While Op RADIO SANTA helps bring the magic of the holiday season for children who get to talk directly with Santa Claus, it also works to give the soldiers a unique training opportunity that they would not normally have.
“The human element is the key benefit of this community relations event for regimental soldiers,” said Maj Kotzer.
“Through the faces and smiles of these young children, this interaction with them enhances their own communication skills with the public, while giving our soldiers the ability to connect with the Canadians they joined to serve – bringing a greater value to their existence in the military.”