So you want to marshal in Canada, eh?
Whether you’re a local or a visiting marshal, volunteering in Canada is fantastic. Canada combines the excellent racing machinery of it’s southern neighbor with proper European FIA rules and passion when it comes to marshaling. I have tremendous respect for everyone that I’ve worked with in Canada and I really want to communicate this point across.
My first experience was the Canadian GP almost as soon as I cut my stay in New Zealand short. Since I was back in the US, signing up to marshal the GP in Montréal was a no-brainer. My first year there was great. For the second year I was thrown under the bus for taking pictures, like the header shot I shared above, by a fellow American marshal. Why do I talk about something that I did wrong? Because I feel strongly about marshals getting to enjoy the perks of volunteering in the form of having opportunities to take photos to preserve personal memories. I took my shots discreetly. And was only singled out days after the event ended by sharing them on social media. It is part of the reason I chose not to pursue marshaling the Canadian GP again. There were other local volunteers that were blatantly disregarding the rule, yet I was the one that someone went through the trouble of placing on probation while inviting me to come back. Go figure.
Canada has been a convenient international place to marshal for me, though not trouble free. Every time I drove to Québec, which is only about a six hour ride up the Thruway, I was detained at the border and my vehicle searched. The French Canadians gave me a very hard time. While my Ontario crossings to marshal at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) or Toronto Indy were nothing of the sort. It was a breeze there. Yet despite the hassles I highly recommend volunteering at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Mosport or any other. Like many other countries, the ASN in Canada does not offer you any visa advise besides telling you not to advertise that you’re entering their country to volunteer. This advise may work for retired Americans crossing the border as tourists, but for a younger person going to an event without a ticket seems suspicious at the border. Yet after contacting the Canadian consulate in the US I was assured in writing that volunteering for a specific event in Canada where no moneys are paid is completely legal. Having this information should make my next border crossing more hassle-free, hopefully.
I’ve already listed the main reason I love volunteering in Canada but I’ll reinforce it with the fact that working there is similar to Australia, New Zealand or the UK. The FIA rules are clear and properly taught to all the marshals. There is a proper hierarchy of marshals, a chain of command that is carefully followed, and there is a clear outline of what one must do to climb up the ranks. My favorite rule is considering blue flag as specialty role and only qualified people are allowed to work that position, which is brilliant. Simply showing up to events is not the main indicator of experience. There are politics of course as with any other organization, but the system seemed much less chaotic to an outsider like me compared to the US.
So to get involved, I would recommend choosing an event to marshal and then pursuing the organization that provides marshals for that event. I have only personally worked with ACIND in Québec and MMS in Ontario. There are other clubs elsewhere in the country.
To volunteer for the Canadian GP there is a fee involved.