“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst:” More Canadians interested in survivalism – Victoria News


Many Canadians were unprepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, but Dave MacDonald was not one of them.

While some people rushed to stores to buy toilet paper and food, MacDonald was living peacefully in his isolated southern Manitoba home with his wife and two sons.

They live “off the grid” near the town of Lac du Bonnet and grow about half of their own food in their backyards. MacDonald also hunts.

“I don’t even need toilet paper,” said the 55-year-old.

“I can use snow, leaves or my hands. The snow is the most stimulating.

MacDonald is part of a growing community of survivors or “preppers”, who prepare for possible disasters that could collapse governments and infrastructure.

Some say they have noticed an increase in interest in the movement since the start of the pandemic.

MacDonald, who teaches survival training, also had a long career as a search and rescue specialist with the Royal Canadian Air Force.

“I have seen plane crashes. I saw boats on fire. I saw people fall overboard. I saw helicopters crash. I have seen trains derailed. I have seen factories explode. I have seen wars break out everywhere, ”he says.

“People get in trouble because they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s never gonna happen to me.’ And then when it happens, because it happens, they’re not prepared.

COVID-19 is one of those events people weren’t prepared for, says MacDonald, who thinks that’s why many have enrolled in his International Canadian School of Survival.

He teaches firearms training and basic survival skills such as food rationing, land navigation, and construction fires. The number of students in its classes has doubled – and in its online classes, they have quadrupled – since the start of the pandemic.

Some survivors may be bracing for the end of the world, but for MacDonald, it’s about being prepared.

“There are three classifications: emergency survival, primitive life skills, and bush crafts. I mainly teach emergency survival. Bush craftsmanship is when you are in the wilderness and hone your skills in the wilderness. And primitive life is when people want to do things the old fashioned way.

Ryan Pearce, 35, of Saskatoon does not live off the grid. He says he is a hobbyist who enjoys learning bush crafts.

His online group called “Preppers & Survivalists of Canada” has over 6,000 members. Since the start of the pandemic, the group has seen a 50% increase in the number of participants, he said.

“Some of them are mothers asking, ‘How can I refrigerate my meat like our grandparents used to do? “Or just prepare food in your gardens or hunt,” says Pearce.

Jonathan Rawles is the co-founder of a website called Survival Realty based in the United States.

More Americans and Canadians are buying remote properties in rural Alberta and British Columbia, he says.

“Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and panic, we’ve seen our web traffic for interest in remote off-grid rural survival properties double,” Rawles said from his home in Idaho.

Many buyers are drawn to the simple lifestyle that survivalism offers, he adds.

“We are seeing people concerned that the virus is in a densely populated city. But then we also see people who now have the freedom to move and live where they want to be thanks to remote work, ”says Rawles.

“And so that’s something that really pushes people to make changes that they maybe had the intention or desire to make for a long time.”

The Canadian government recommends that people be prepared for a disaster of at least 48 hours, MacDonald points out.

“You have to be prepared to pick up your family and leave an area in the event of a natural or man-made disaster. And then you have to hold on for 72 hours and hope for the best, while preparing for the worst. “


This story was produced with the financial assistance of Facebook and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press

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