Newsletters - Volume 53
A Chilly Visit – Strengthening Relations Between CF and Cadet Units
Article written by Lieutenant Tim Fournier, B Tp Comd, 742 Signal Squadron
Early last November, I was asked to make contact with our sister Cadet Squadron, 2749 Inuvik Signals RCACC, in order to organize the first of an annual visit and mentoring session amongst our two units. Yes, that would be Inuvik, NWT. Cadets, for those that are not aware, is a program designed to allow leadership and teamwork skills to be taught to Canadian youth in a safe and responsible environment; something some might argue is often difficult to find. The purpose was primarily to strengthen ties with this Cadet Squadron, and further to assist in the development of a visible presence amongst Northern communities.
So it was that we departed from a chilly Edmonton (5°C) to a slightly colder Inuvik (-25°C), as two representative members of 742 Signal Squadron to participate in a weekend field training exercise along with Remembrance Day ceremonies in the town proper. On arrival, we were greeted by Lt Paul McDonald (CIC), their Commanding Officer, and taken over into town to drop off our luggage consisting almost entirely of snow gear, and to meet the group at the local elementary school in which they parade.
Inuvik is located Northwest of Yellowknife, a town of structures built on stilts so as to not affect the permafrost below and allow them to sink. The most significant thing you notice immediately is the immense costs within Northern communities. A head of lettuce: $10. A bottle of milk: $15. These costs are all related to the cost and availability to transport items up North. Lt McDonald himself was elated to be able to receive some spare Signals cap badges for the Cadets, as even CF supply updates are difficult in the area.
The plan was to provide a short background lesson on our own unit history along with what we do, with Cpl Teague Bruneau later giving a presentation on his time and experiences in a recent Afghanistan tour. We further participated in other planned activities including sports, a demonstration parade and some marksmanship. The group consisted of 16 youth aged 12-18 years old who follow a rank structure similar to our own NCMs. Between activities, Lt McDonald explained the difficulty that their unit has in maintaining proper lesson plans and unit stores in order to provide the youth with the activities they need; a problem that I imagine is shared amongst many Cadet organizations, especially in the remote North. Furthermore, how important this group was as the only safe and constructive outlet for these youth’s energy in the entire community.
Later days were spent touring the surrounding area of Inuvik, and even getting the opportunity to try some dog sledding. It is a surprising and memorable feeling going from a standstill to 25 km/h while standing on two thin rails on the back of a sled. Pretty soon we had mastered the basics and moved on to more advanced techniques such as not falling off the sleds – quite a memorable experience. The Remembrance Day ceremonies were well done, with the entire town coming out to participate, including government workers, RCMP, and every member of the town really demonstrating the sense of community there.
The Canadian Forces offers many opportunities for mentoring and community involvement, and there are few as ingrained directly into the CF structure as the Cadets program. I encourage every unit to seek out their paired Cadet Squadron and to foster a relationship with them. It is through our youth that we develop future leaders, and why not have a little fun along the way?