Kaitlyn Hamilton, Erin Mills, and Emma Soetaert are all graduating in the Class of 2020. Photo Submitted

Kaitlyn Hamilton, Erin Mills, and Emma Soetaert are all graduating in the Class of 2020. Photo Submitted

Air Cadets wrap up another fantastic year

The Elk Valley Air Cadets held their Annual Ceremonial Review virtually this year

Cadets in the Elk Valley have completed another training year. 279 Elk Valley Air Cadets and 2757 PPCLI Fernie Army cadets have had to overcome obstacles in program delivery, but have managed to continue to engage their cadets.

2757 PPCLI Fernie Army Cadets usually parade on Wednesday evenings at the Fernie Legion, while the 279 Elk Valley Air Cadets usually parade in Sparwood on Thursday evenings. Like many organizations, when the COVID-19 pandemic created the need for social distancing, their program was no longer permitted to meet in person.

Safety of our cadets is our priority and that is why the decision was made to suspend cadet activities until September. This also includes cancelling in person summer training (summer camps) for cadets. Each summer we send cadets to attend training at our Cadet Training Centres. This year we were expected to send approximately 12 cadets to various places across western Canada.

Despite the cancelled activities, the cadets have continued to meet each week through video means. Although these aren’t the same as the in-person experience, they have given the cadets an opportunity to stay connected to each other and still have the option of continuing to learn. They have covered knot tying, camp craft, identifying clouds, and even had a healthy snacks cooking class. We focus on keeping it relevant, but also fun.

On June 4, the 279 Elk Valley Air Cadets held their Annual Ceremonial Review (ACR), but this year it was done virtually. Usually, ACR is a big event, a way to celebrate the achievements and accomplishments of the cadets. The format for the parade was adapted to be done in a virtual way, and the cadets and staff donned their uniforms for the last time this year. There were speeches and words of encouragement and praise for the cadets, along with annual awards.

The Top First Year Cadet was LAC Samantha Carlson, Most Improved Cadet was Sgt. Gianna Campisi, Top Junior Cadet was Cpl Kamryn Rawles and Top Senior Cadet was Sgt. Emily Ramsay. Also announced was the Royal Canadian Legion Cadet Medal of Excellence; a prestigious award for a cadet who demonstrates exemplary leadership and citizenship, this year it was awarded to Warrant Officer 2nd Class Kaitlyn Hamilton. The Lord Strathcona Medal; one of the highest honours a cadet can receive, was awarded to Sgt. Kaleb Barnum.

The Squadron also took the opportunity to congratulate and thank the cadets that are graduating high school and departing the program. WO2 Kaitlyn Hamilton and WO2 Erin Mills have participated in the Air Cadets for the past six years. Staying in the program for the full six years is quite an accomplishment and their fellow cadets had words of thanks and encouragement for them, along with a photo slide show of their time in cadets.

The 2757 PPCLI Fernie Army Cadets haven’t set a date for their ACR, and it may wait until September. At this point the cadets are waiting direction on resuming in person cadet activities.

Both units are finishing up with fun and challenging trivia games, reflecting on everything they have done over the training year. From participating in Remembrance Day Services, Emergency Services Food Drives, Regional Sports Weekend, Zone Marksmanship Competition and the Mess Dinner they held in February at the Fernie Seniors Centre.

The cadet program is a diverse program and offers a wide variety of opportunities. Check out Cadets.ca for more information or contact Captain Sherri Shaw 250-423-6224.