Air cadets hold annual ceremonial review

Summer reporter
Stephanie Hagenaars

Members of the 908 Rainy Lake Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron marched in front of family and friends last Wednesday night for the 15th-annual ceremonial review at the Memorial Sports Centre auditorium.
Insp. Nathan Schmidt of the Rainy River District OPP served as the reviewing officer this year, after which awards were handed out to recognize the cadets’ achievements over the past year.
“The experience you gain as a cadet in the area of leadership, teamwork, compassion, and integrity will enhance your future opportunities, no matter what career path you take in the future,” Insp. Schmidt said during his address to the cadets.
“In the OPP, we have recruited many officers, including my own son who is now with the OPP, that participated in cadets as a youth.
“As a parent and as a commander, I witnessed first-hand the positive impacts the Royal Canadian Air Cadets can have for our youth,” he added.
Many of the evening’s speakers lauded the cadets for their hard work, improvements, and dedication to the squadron.
But they weren’t the only ones honoured. The speakers thanked and congratulated the parents, as well.
“You’re a vital part of this unit,” stressed Rick Mortensen, effective speaking regional co-ordinator for Northwestern Ontario.
“I know what it’s like to be the parent of a cadet,” he noted. “I’ve done just about everything you could do in the cadet system, except be a cadet. . . .
“One of the hardest jobs is being a parent.”
Mortensen added it’s all of the extra time and commitment that parents, other relatives, and friends take to ensure the cadets are able to attend the various camps, team gatherings, and training sessions.
Commanding Officer Capt. Dawn Gray wrapped up the speeches by commending the cadets, as well as the parents, saying that without their hard work and determination, the past year would not have been the success it was.
“We’ve had cadets go to orienteering, to effective speaking, to marksmanship and to a drill competition, and at all those things they did very well,” she noted.
“The parents do a lot of behind-the-scenes work,” Capt. Gray added. “They support their child, whether it be something little to something big, and they’re always there for them.
“We’ve had a great group of parents and they provide tremendous support, and I just want to say a personal thank you for making this a great year for your cadet.”
Following the formal ceremonies, the cadets brought in tables and set up displays outlining some of the activities they’ve done throughout the year, such as marksmanship and drill.
F/Sgt. Courtney Sinclair, who just finished her fifth year as an air cadet, said the program has helped her develop leadership and teaching skills, as well as finding her voice and interacting with others–skills that will help her when she goes to camp this year as part of the staff.
She also said her past experiences have been very beneficial.
“I went to basic drill and ceremonial camp a couple years ago,” F/Sgt. Sinclair noted. “While I was there, they had the vintage air flight things come and I got to not only ride in but fly a Fleet Finch, which is the training biplane they would use when they first got the air force set up.
“That’s the first plane anyone would fly. It was really cool.”
Similarly, sixth-year cadet WO2 Aidan DeGagne said he plans to continue until he ages out, adding the program has helped him to open up.
He said it’s the teamwork he enjoys most.
“There’s an incredible amount of teams you can go on,” DeGagne explained. “If you’re a bit shy, you can do the marksmanship team.
“You have drill classes,” he noted. “My sisters, they used to be in dance so I know they like drill because of all the movements.
“You have effective speaking for those outgoing types,” DeGagne added. “There’s something for everyone.”
F/Sgt. Jonathan Danielson, who has been with the cadets for five years, said he’s the only cadet to have attended an aerospace course and is encouraging others in the squadron to do the same.
“I gained the knowledge about aerospace and I want to become an aerospace mechanical engineer eventually,” he remarked.
“I’m also able to teach the cadets here about aerospace and I’m encouraging them to take these courses, as well.”
F/Sgt. Danielson added the program has helped him to improve his leadership skills and the commanding of cadets, which will assist him this summer at the Trenton Cadet Training Centre in Trenton, Ont., where he will be part of the staff.