A group of local cadets is marching forward and hoping to attract some new recruits.
The 199 St. Vital Royal Canadian Air Squadron will host an open house on Thurs., Sept. 12 from 6:15 to 9 p.m. at the Louis Riel Arts and Technology Centre, located at 5 deBourmont Ave. The event is aimed at youth aged 12 to 18 (and their parents) and is intended to showcase some of the training and activities the cadets take part in.
Visitors will get the chance to "visit some classes and take part in some, as well. There will be a briefing explaining in more detail what the cadet program is all about and what we expect of them once they join," said Capt. Marc Pelletier, who lives in St. Vital, noting there are around 60 male and female cadets currently in the squadron. "The goal of the cadet program is, ultimately, to teach youth to become better citizens. We’re always looking for new blood."
Through a variety of interactive instruction and events, the cadets develop knowledge and skills intended to foster good citizenship and leadership, promote physical fitness and stimulate an interest in the air element of the Canadian Forces. The group parades on Thursday nights throughout the school year and also offers optional activities throughout the week.
"Our cadets learn about things such as drill, leadership, citizenship, motivation, meteorology and air crew survival. We also simulate in-flight emergencies, where cadets have to eject from an aircraft with a parachute, sleeping bag and limited supplies and simulate surviving in a small area for three days," Pelletier said, noting some cadets do eventually pursue a career in the Canadian Forces.
He added there is also an annual ceremonial review in the spring, "which is the last big parade we do in the year to showcase what the cadets do in terms of drill, and there’s also an annual awards dinner."
Pelletier said part of the appeal of the cadets program is its all-encompassing recruitment policy.
"We don’t discriminate and we accept anybody. It’s the largest youth program in Canada. In every city, as well as smaller towns, there is some kind of cadet corps. It’s also a chance for newcomers to make new friends and get involved in the community," Pelletier said.
LAC (leading air cadet) Eric Fillion, 13, has been involved in the program for a year and was attracted by his interest in flying.
"I really enjoy learning about planes and sports night, which involves things like basketball and running," Fillion said.
Sgt. Amanda Bernat, 15, has been involved for the past four years and followed in the footsteps of her brothers.
"It’s a good program. There’s friends to be made, there’s camps and I got to go to gliding school in Gimli," Bernat said.
"It’s good to gain responsibility, it’s good exercise and it’s fun. It’s made me appreciate taking care of a uniform and has also made me less shy and given me more self-confidence."
To learn more, visit www.199rcacs.info