Armed forces veterans continue to serve community in Westboro

Garet is seen wearing a military uniform.
Randy Turner spent 21 years in the military. He is founder of Westboro’s Direct Action Combat Performance. Provided photo.

By Simon Hopkins

Direct Action Combat Performance

Direct Action was founded by Randy Turner shortly after he retired from 21 years in the military. He served with the Princess Patricia’s infantry and in Canada’s elite special forces unit for 16 years.

Turner’s combat performance centre provides physical and mental training to anyone interested in improving their physical fighting ability. “It’s a myriad of skill offerings from firearms training to specific strength and conditioning designed for the tactical athlete,” he said.

Turner combined his elite military training and time as a competitive fighter to develop the training used by Direct Action. He was a champion mixed martial arts fighter, which has influenced much of the fitness and hand-to-hand training done by the centre. 

When Turner retired from the military and professional fighting, he felt he still had years of energy but was ready to start a new chapter. “I felt like I still had ten years of fight left in me,” he said.

When considering entrepreneurship, Turner reflected on what he enjoyed: connecting with people, strength, and health. “I like strength and conditioning. I’d fought professionally for a decade, so I thought I’ve got some stuff I can share with others.”

Direct Action will hold its third annual charity auction between Nov. 1 and 11 to support local charities as an act of Remembrance. The money raised will support Walk for The Wounded, Warrior Adventures Canada, and Concerts For Kids. 

Kana Leaf Cannabis

Garet Avery began to review the laws and directives regarding cannabis sale shortly after it was legalized. He was preparing to retire from the forces and wanted to open his own business. He served across the country and was deployed in Afghanistan. Avery served 18 years as a military police officer and was decorated for actions of heroism and bravery. 

He and his team opened their first store in Nipissing First Nation in 2020. When he retired from the armed forces in 2022, Avery opened a second store in Westboro after settling in the Ottawa area with his family. “We’re family-owned and very community-oriented,” Avery said.

Garet takes a photo outside of Lowertown Brewery
Kana Leaf cannabis was founded by local veteran Garet Avery. Provided Photo.

He was thrilled at the community’s reception when the Westboro store opened. He carefully gets to know his clients and works hard to provide the specific kinds of products they’re interested in. “We really honed in on what our customers want,” he said.

Avery couldn’t be happier with the success of the business and his decision to open his shops. “If I didn’t set myself up this way, it would have been hard to transition,” he said. The military is highly structured and task-oriented – something small business owners can relate to. Avery thinks business is a positive path for retired armed forces members. 

Remembrance Day in Westboro

The Westboro branch of the Royal Canadian Legion will host multiple events on Saturday, Nov. 11 in recognition of Remembrance Day. In the morning, a parade consisting of the fire service band, cadets, scouts, and local veterans will end at the Cenotaph. There, a memorial will take place, recognizing the service of generations of Canadian veterans. A soup lunch will follow at the Legion for all who’d like to join. 

“Anyone who wants to pop in is welcome,” said Greg Murphy, the branch president. “As long as the soup lasts, of course,” he said with a laugh. 

Lunch is free, but donations will be accepted to support the community’s veterans. There will be bands playing throughout the afternoon and into the evening. 

This year, the Legion is excited to hang banners recognizing Canadian veterans along Richmond Road in collaboration with the Westboro BIA. 

“They’ll go up the first of November,” said Murphy, “and come down at the end of the month.”

Remembrance Day wreaths are seen lined up at a cenotaph
The wreaths at the Westboro Cenotaph for Remembrance Day 2019. File photo courtesy of the Westboro Legion.

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