Black History Month is a time to honour Black Canadians, both past and present. It is also a time to reflect and learn more about their distinguished service. The Royal Montreal Regiment (RMR), by its nature as a ‘city regiment’, reflects the communities that it draws recruits from. In honour of Black History Month, the RMR Foundation is publishing profiles of service of some of the Black Canadians who have served (and continue to serve) in our ranks.
Westmount, Quebec – 17 February 2021: Sergeant (ret’d) Fabiola Camille, CD joined the RMR in 1995 and retired in 2017 as the Records Management Clerk in the RMR’s Battalion Orderly Room, where she had also served as the Chief Clerk and the Assistant Chief Clerk.
Until a constitutional change was made by the Canadian government to respect the Charter of Human Rights, women were prohibited from serving in combat roles in the Canadian Armed Forces until the end of the 1980’s. Integration was not immediate and despite several previous generations of RMR women having undergone intensive field training, it was not until 1995 that Sergeant Fabiola Camille would become officially qualified as the first female infantry soldier in The Royal Montreal Regiment. She set a standard followed by many women since.
Aside from her original Infantry trade training, Sergeant Camille has military qualifications in all clerical duties (after switching trades after several years as an Infantry soldier), as well as Drivers Qualification (404’s), and both Intermediate and Advanced Leadership Courses. Her favourite memory of serving with the RMR was showing up outside her parents’ home behind the wheel of a 2.5 ton truck in the Town of Mount Royal as a recent drivers course graduate – her mother was very proud of her achievement.
When asked what she likes the MOST about being in the RMR, she answered “The comradeship. the RMR is home! ” And, like a lot of us who served in the regiment, the thing she liked the least about serving in the RMR was the ‘chin-up bar’! And she is torn when asked to decide what was the coolest thing that she ever did in the army; tied between rock climbing on sheer ice,or when Spiderman showed up at one of the famous RMR Kids Christmas Parties – she recounts that “the smiles on the children’s faces was priceless”.
Her extra Regimental service includes two Domestic Operations (DOMOPS) deployments, the first being the Ice Storm of 1998 that paralyzed the entire province of Quebec, large portions of Eastern Ontario, and the Maritimes. More than 1.4 million customers in Quebec were without power, meaning that half the province was shivering at home at some point. Given her experience in DOMOPS and helping the civilian population, Sergeant Camille deployed again in 2011 to assist with the mass flooding in southern Quebec.
Sergeant Camille was one of the best recruiters in the 34th Brigade, and she was known for conducting information sessions in full fighting order and passing the equipement around, encouraging potential recruits to try it on, hold weapons, etc. She used every available tool to achieve her results, which were impressive. Her success ensured that the regiment remained healthy and kept it’s focus on growth.
She is the recipient of the Canadian Forces Decoration (CD) medal for 12 consecutive years of good conduct, as well as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal. Her advice to young soldiers in the Regiment today is “If I would’ve known how many years of service I would stay in, I would have joined the Regular Forces. Pick your career wisely – read, ask questions”
Raised in the Town of Mont Royal and currently residing in Laval, Qc, Sergeant Camille is currently working as an Account Service Lead at Staples Promotional Products Canada, the largest supplier of branded promotional merchandise in Canada. Since being released from the regiment in 2017, Fabiola Camille remains actively involved in the regimental family, attending WO & Sgts’ Mess dinners, reunions, and more.