Jean-Luc Alexander Amyotte walks into the Medium office dressed head to toe in his sharp naval uniform. Amyotte represents the Canadian Navy here at UTM; whether he’s in a second-year criminology class, walking the campus, or in the weight training facilities, he follows the disciplines learned through many years of training.
Amyotte trade is naval cook and medic. This past summer, he spent nine weeks living in an intensive military lifestyle. During that time, he received his basic military qualification.
“Back at my home base, I’m primarily a cook, and then when I go on the ship I’m a cook and a medic. In case of a battle, cooks aren’t going to be at the bottom of the vessel—they’re going to go up and take care of the wounded,” says Amyotte, who takes as much pride in being a medic as he does a cook.
At 14, Amyotte joined the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and enjoyed every moment of it. Even though the navy is an important way of life, his education is his top priority.
“Once I aged out at 19, I realized I wanted to experience more, so I joined the navy. Because I wished to pursue a degree in school, I had to join the reserves, which is part-time,” he says. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, Amyotte wants to use his naval training to become a police officer when his time on the sea is complete.
Proud to call the men and women he trains alongside his family, he reflects on a moment of courage and sacrifice.
“There was a gas leak during a training exercise,” he says. “Two members of the crew were trapped inside a lodge area.
“The leak started in the kitchen, making a fire, which set off the alarms. As everyone evacuated, I decided to check and see if everyone was accounted for, because once there’s a fire, they seal off the sections. Luckily I found the men and brought them to safety.”
It’s imperative to be in perfect shape to be in the navy. You have to do recertification tests every six months to prove you’re physically fit enough to make it to the next level. Everything from push-ups to sandbag drags—you’re doing it all to show you can manage the mental and physical stress.
“The 180-pound sandbag mimics a human body. You have to drag it a certain distance on the gym floor without stopping,” says Amyotte.
“I use the gym here a lot to keep healthy; you have to work out on your free time to maintain a healthy, physically active lifestyle. If you slack off, you won’t pass the tests.
“Staying physically fit is crucial to what we do,” he adds.
Amyotte’s next test is in December. The test will simulate a real-life combat mission, in case he was ever to face that kind of critical situation.
Amyotte works out at the RAWC two times a week to prepare for that test. He emphasizes working his core muscles, reducing the risk of severe injury. Also, working the chest and arms and gaining upper body strength is necessary for strenuous movements and challenges such as holding heavy equipment for hours on end.
Amyotte also has the responsibility of feeding a large number of people who need to be kept full of energy.
“I like to eat healthy—I eat a lot of carbs. For the guys on the ship, I’ll make high-carb meals using potatoes, steak, fish, rice, and vegetables. The guys seem to love apples, too,” he says. He enjoys cooking for the large group. Intense training demands concentration and physical commitment at all times, with mealtimes as an opportunity to socialize and rest. Knowing he brightens the days and fuels the minds of naval officers makes Amyotte’s experiences worthwhile.
Amyotte expresses what he hopes to accomplish with the navy once his training is complete and he’s fully certified.
“I want to be out on a ship every summer experiencing the world as much as I can,” he says. “I expect to be deployed in the Caribbean, Alaska, or the Arctic. Cooks are in high demand, so I’m expecting to get a call one day soon.”
Amyotte reflects on the discipline he’s thankful the navy has taught him. “No matter the challenge, you have to do it if you know it is good for you,” he says. “Second, look your best—impressions matter. Lastly, maintain a positive attitude—whether you’re peeling potatoes or shooting a rifle.”