Home > Uncategorized > The perils of pipe band practice…and pepper spray?

The perils of pipe band practice…and pepper spray?

Was it tear-gas, pepper spray…or bear spray.  We may never know.

Every Tuesday, the band members of the RCMP E. Division Pipe Band gather at our usual spot to practice. The Justice Institute of British Columbia  is in an ideal, central location in New Westminster but you often must expect the unexpected.

Justice Institute of B.C.

The JI teaches public safety. This is where fire, corrections, traffic and police officers receive training and certifications. Throughout the day, various courses take place, including practice in dealing with offenders.  And subduing offenders can require practicing the use of non-lethal force – like pepper spray.  On Tuesday, there must have been a “pepper-spray” practice session in the gym.  Pipe Major Hugh Peden issued new chanter reeds to all band members, and we dutifully inserted them into our chanters and began warming up. Within minutes, most of the band was choking and coughing. We thought it was the new reeds, but soon realized the scratching in the back of our throats was due to something in the air. Was it tear-gas? I’ve experienced tear-gas exposure ( working downtown during the recent Stanley Cup riots) and recall the stinging in the eyes. Maybe it was bear or pepper spray. Whatever it was, it wasn’t pleasant.  The doors were open, the fans turned on and we soldiered on as we prepared for our upcoming concert with the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir.

There were no effects from our experience.  No need to pull out gas masks or cancel practice.  As we approach Remembrance Day 2011, our encounter with the mystery air-borne spray can remind us of the sacrifices made by our fellow pipers who served in the trenches of World War I and who faced deadly gas attacks and endured real danger and harsh conditions. We are certainly lucky to have the comfort of an indoor gym at the JI to practice..despite the occasional minor inconvenience.

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