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Over 100 cadets graduate from 6-week national program in North Bay

'It is so important to let people know what a great program this is and that we are producing future leaders for Canada,' says Brigadier-General D.B. (Dave) Cochrane

It was a proud day for the 125 cadets graduating from the six-week national course in Advanced Aviation Technology and the Aircraft Maintenance and Airport Operations at Canadore College in North Bay Friday.

Brigadier-General D.B. (Dave) Cochrane is commander of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group.

He was in North Bay as reviewing officer for the graduation parade.

“The big thing right now is we’re really pushing on an identity project of making sure people are aware of the cadet program. These two courses here are prime examples of what is available for the cadet experience,” said BGen Cochrane.

“Our big thing is telling our story and whether that is through social media or doing briefings or going out and seeing various community leaders. It is so important to let people know what a great program this is and that we are producing future leaders for Canada.”

The Brigadier-General says the key focus is on leadership, teamwork, and citizenship. And out of that comes things like self-confidence and physical fitness, all which gives cadets a solid foundation to help them succeed in the future.

There are currently 53,000 cadets across Canada, representing army, navy and air force.

BGen Cochrane wants cadets to spread the word about the benefits of being a cadet.

“Let’s not keep this a secret. Tell other kids in high school what you’re doing in cadets and invite them to try it out. I think the cadets are the best ambassadors of the program, explaining what experiences they are getting to enjoy.”

The graduating cadets are from right across the country, are generally between 14 and 18 years old.

“We give out awards for top academics, most improved, scholarships and bursaries as well,” said Officer Cadet Kevin Broadley

“For someone to even be accepted they have to go through an interview process, and they also write a narrative as to why they believe they deserve to be accepted in the course. Because this is a national camp, we open it up to everybody across Canada, but we can only accept a certain number of cadets, so it is very competitive.  They also have to have good grades in school, and they also have to ensure that they have a good cadet record.”

Among the many awards handed out was the Army Navy and Air Force Veterans in Canada Cadet Medal of Merit awards and the Order of St-George medal presented for distinguished and exemplary achievement of a Staff Cadet.

Course cadet Kathryn Percy-Robb who lives in Toronto, took the aircraft maintenance course, working on various helicopters and other aircraft.

“There has been a lot of opportunities here. I am looking at a career in aircraft maintenance. This has really benefited me because it pushed me in that area and let me see what my future could look like,” said Percy-Robb.

“You learn a lot of hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills obviously working on the aircraft, and soft skills being leadership opportunities, being able to be in charge of a flight. I am a flight commander for this parade. A lot of the staff cadets are really inspirational for me because they all have such different leadership styles, yet they’re all so successful and I aspire to be like them one day.”

Course cadet Liam Leger who travelled from Campbellton, New Brunswick for the six-week camp was interested in airport operations.

“I eventually want to become a pilot in the Canadian Armed Forces. My next step is doing my glider pilot licence and my power pilot licence. Hopefully I’ll get accepted into those camps but for now I keep going to each camp,” said Leger who is active in his squadron back home.

“I get to teach the younger cadets who are passionate about aviation at my squadron. I just love seeing their faces light up and hearing them say that aviation is awesome. It is a great feeling to be here and learn all this stuff.”

Lieutenant Wayne Chan has moved up the ranks from his days as a course cadet.

“During the course the cadets go through vigorous hands on experiences, labs, lectures and a variety of opportunities they could never get anywhere else,” said Chan.

“This program has changed me quite a bit. It has inspired me to go through aviation management. Originally, I thought aviation was all just about being a pilot, but this course has opened my eyes that there are multiple careers in this field. Many of these cadets will reapply to do the other course so they get the whole scope of experiences.”