The Rolling Barrage Cross-Canada Motorcycle Rally to stop in Petawawa August 11
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday August 1, 2019
A Rolling Barrage of motorcyclists will make its way across Canada to raise awareness of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Operational Stress Injuries (OSI) affecting First Responders and veterans across the country.
Many riders taking part in The Rolling Barrage 3rd Annual Cross-Canada Motorcycle Rally are Canadian Armed Forces personnel or First Responders themselves who want to show solidarity for their suffering brothers and sisters. However anyone is welcome to join in and show support for the cause.
“We want to show people that they have a place to reach out,” said Chris “Mano” Pouliot, organizer for the local leg of the ride. “It can be a hard thing to admit that you have a mental illness.”
Not all riders have PTSD or an OSI, but nearly all of them know someone who does. Participating in the Rolling Barrage can be healing, allowing them to be surrounded by many who understand the stresses that come with the job and who are there to help shoulder burdens.
“Even if you don’t ride and you just show up to the event, you can talk to other veterans and talk to other First Responders and you can let your guard down a bit,” said Pouliot, “because you are surrounded by people who have walked in your shoes.”
Last year, the ride saw about 900 people join but only 12 managed the “full pull” journey of 5,800 km. Organizers do not expect people to ride the whole way; rather riders are invited come and go when it’s convenient to them.
But sometimes the road is filled with motorcyclists as far as the eye can see, noted Pouliot. “When you are in the back of a rise and you can see the whole line in front of you, it is quite powerful,” he said.
Despite only being in its third year, the Military Mind Inc initiative has seen some incredible support from the communities they ride through.
Many host events and offer a fun stopover for both participants and residents. Locally on Aug. 11, CANEX will host a free BBQ, open to the public. Though the exact timing of the riders’ arrival cannot be guaranteed, Pouliot estimates approximately 4:15 p.m. Garrison Petawawa Military Police and firefighters will also be there to provide an escort.
“It is just an example of the community stepping up and showing their support,” said Pouliot. “They jumped on board because they think it is a great initiative in its own respect, but also because it supports their own causes. Firefighters deal with PTSD all the time and so do (police). And they are part of our community.
“We are building relationships and we are promoting the awareness of PTSD by trying to remove that stigma that has been surrounding it for so long,” he added.
The Rolling Barrage begins on Aug. 5 in Halifax and ends in British Columbia on Aug. 21. Those who cannot make their way East can still ride that Sunday. They are invited to meet the group in Hawkesbury, travel with them to Parliament Hill for a special performance of the Changing of the Guard, followed by a quick visit to the Afganistan Memorial. They will then make their way to Petawawa, where the CANEX event will await them. Or if they prefer, they can meet with the group at Irving Big Stop in Pembroke and end at CANEX if their time is limited.
All proceeds from the event go to Military Minds Inc., which is run solely by volunteers passionate about helping their peers.
“They give you a really good sense of hope and help you get the help you need,” said Pouliot.
Military Minds Inc. is a leading global organization that offers peer support for PTSD and OSIs and is dedicated to fighting stigma while helping veterans connect to appropriate resources based on their individual needs.
For more information or to sign up for the event, please visit http://www.therollingbarrage.com.