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Noah Bearinger recalls an incident that tested the faith of the COs.


“A week later I was helping the group of boys burn brush when a truck stopped and let a passenger off. It was Hans and he came in our direction. The way he walked and the look on his face told me that he had something in store for us. When he got closer he said, “Well boys, this beautiful morning I have good news for you all. Remember those two men in uniform who drove up here in a jeep? Well, they were from the [army] training centre at Camp Borden. They said it is a shame to have so many able-bodied men up here in the northern wilds. So they decided to take you all out of here. They are going to put you in uniform, and with a rifle slung over your shoulder, march you off to war.”


“We were too stunned for words. With all the rumours the previous week, and now hearing these words from the lips of my respected friend, I had no choice but to accept it as the truth.”


“The words of a great poet flashed through my mind:


'Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide –

              In the strife of truth and falsehood, on the good or evil side.'


“What a wonderful chance to give a testimony of our faith, and we almost missed it. Hans looked us over from head to foot, as if he saw us for the first time. Truly he saw us the first time in such a shocked condition. Finally one boy had the courage to say, ‘They can take me away from these camps and put me in uniform. They can even sling a rifle across my shoulder and send me to war, but as long as I am in my right mind, I will never shoot a man. No never!'”


“Hans looked us all straight in the eyes one by one. After looking again at the boy who made this brave statement Hans said, ‘I believe every word you said, Cornelius, and…' After a brief pause he added, ‘you can forget about everything I just said.'”


“It is almost impossible to describe the weight that was lifted from our hearts and minds. It was a blunt rude way for Hans to put our faith to a test, but I still regarded him as a friend. Hans explained later that the two men were actually from Camp Borden, but they were sent to check on camp conditions.” [ASM, 101]


Although Hans was just joking around, this scenario was common in other countries. Canada respected the COs, so they were not forced into the army. Soon after the CO program started, however, the COs learned that their four months of service would be extended indefinitely.

David Jantzi went to the CO camp not knowing how long he would be there.  It was hard to leave a young family behind.

Drying dishes at Clear Lake COs at the East Gate at Clear Lake


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