The Last Stand

Posted on July 23, 2012


A female prairie skink found under artificial covering at CFB Shilo. (Daniella Ponticelli/ Brandon Sun)

By Daniella Ponticelli

So I didn’t step on a skink, but I did meet one. Actually, more like five – and a few without tails.

Yes, those tiny slimy lizards do exist and they are cute. But the discovery didn’t happen while I was embedded on EXERCISE BISON WARRIOR 12; no, it was on a hot Monday morning during my last week as the CFB Shilo beat reporter for the Brandon Sun.

A month before my official graduation, I was able to move into a full-time position at Brandon MB’s daily newspaper. I remember the offer was made to me on the busiest day of my final internship at The Winnipeg Free Press.  Getting a job at a daily is no easy feat, and as an added bonus I was offered the military beat, which meant I could wet my journalism feet in some familiar territory.

After meeting some incredible people and having the opportunity to soak in some of Brandon’s rich military roots, I was offered a broadcast job in Saskatoon with a community television station. After much thinking, I understood that what I truly wanted wasn’t as close to home as Brandon, and meant taking a big risk. Something military reporters – even budding ones – know a thing or two about.

So while I’m settling in to my third week at Shaw TV Saskatoon, I’ve decided this blog deserves one last stand – a post to share my final military stories, along with some pictures from my experiences at CFB Shilo.

Thank you once more to all those who joined me, supported me and read me during my journey with the Canadian Forces. This will remain a bright light throughout my career – wherever it takes me – and these experiences have forever enriched my life.


Canadian Forces Liaison Council Executrek 
Corporate leaders spend a day in the field to see what it’s like to be a soldier.

A day with range control 
They are the keepers of the training ground: Range Control. Days can last a regular 8 hours to 14 depending on how many raging fires are happening at CFB Shilo.

Battleview (bottom of page)
38 CBG reservists have a rare opportunity to play with sophisticated equipment that tracks all allied movement during war.

Stories from Brandon Sun (require subscription to view full story)

Raising a skink, or two, at CFB Shilo – (Full story available; published in Winnipeg Free Press as copied from the Brandon Sun)  July 4, 2012
I spent a day with two researchers who are tracking the endangered prairie skink in order to find out more about its critical natural habitat. The results? Some cute lizards and hope for creating a safer environment for Manitoba’s only lizard.

CFB Shilo hoping to ward off biological invaders, trespassers – June 30, 2012
It’s not only about fighting a human enemy, as the Canadian Forces used biocontrol agents (worms and the like) to ward off threats to native prairie. And as we find out, trespassers are harming the land more than they’re aware.

Shilo soldier off to France to honour grandfather – June 26, 2012
A young solider found out in 2011 that his grandfather, who was presumed to have died in a POW camp, actually escaped the camp – only to be gunned down by friendly fire. This is his story of how his grandfather became a hero – honoured by a town in France – more than 60 years after the fateful event.

CFB Shilo ‘very young’  – June 26, 2012
The base is home to many young families, and the staff and volunteers at the Military Family Resource Centre have come up with many ways to make this community of strangers feel like family.

Soldiers prep for big march – June 23, 2012
It’s an honoured pilgrimage for lucky soldiers who can make the 80 km trek in four days through the rough terrain in Nijmegen, Netherlands.

Arctic life focus of pair of exhibits – June 22, 2012
The Royal Canadian Artillery Museum, located at CFB Shilo, opened two travelling exhibits focusing on the proud people of the Arctic, as the world’s eyes turn north and the Canadian Forces begin more cold-weather training.

Shilo soldiers prepare for ‘rare’ training opportunity in Hawaii – June 15, 2012
Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) sounds like a beautiful posting – being as it’s held off the shores of Hawaii. But as this story tells you, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this training is no vacation for our boys in green.

CFB Shilo ready to mark Artillery Day – June 5, 2012
The Royal Canadian Artillery Museum hosts its first big day to celebrate the 60th anniversary of National Artillery Day.

Soldiers ready to join forces with annual Traveller’s Day Parade – June 5, 2012
The soldiers of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry march proudly as they’re granted Freedom of the City – in conjunction with Brandon’s annual Traveller’s Day Parade.

Budget cuts won’t impact Shilo health servicesMay 26, 2012
In the middle of drastic cuts to jobs and funds in the Department of National Defence, CFB Shilo remains unscathed. So is there any truth to one soldier’s public claims that ‘CFB Shilo is overwhelmed’ when it comes to providing mental and physical support? Read more to find out!