Cadet programs on hold as pandemic threatens

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Cadets on parade throughout 4 Wing Cold Lake in July 2019. Photo: Cliff Kenyon

Cliff Kenyon

It will be quieter than usual at 4 Wing Cold Lake this summer.

The base is usually host to swarms of cadets during the summer from throughout Western Canada. But not this summer. Due to the pandemic with rules about gatherings and social distancing, virtually all cadet activities have been cancelled since March.

Like most people, cadets will be staying at home this summer as the entire Cadet program is thrown into turmoil, due to fears over COVID-19.

“Our summer training programs are always an exciting part of the year for our Cadets, so the decision to cancel this part of our training was not taken lightly,” Capt Léonie Laflamme-Savoie, Public Affairs Officer, Regional Cadet Support Unit (Northwest), told The Courier.

This cancellation decision affects: local training, corps and squadron trips, Cadet summer training and activities and in-person training for Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) officers.

“That being said, the Canadian Armed Forces have always done everything they can to support our programs especially during the summer when they provide us with medical support, instructors, and facilities which allow us to operate our summer training programs. By cancelling our summer training, we allowed the Canadian Armed Forces to use these resources to be effective in their mission to protect Canadians during this pandemic. Accepting to suspend activities such as regular and summer training, is a way, for our Cadets and adult staff, to demonstrate good citizenship.”

Each year, about 1500 Cadets come to the Cold Lake Cadet Training Centre throughout the summer. But not this year. All cadet programs, weekly meetings and training sessions at Cold Lake, have been cancelled. There are 54,325 Cadets in Canada according to June 2019 numbers. This does not include the 4,279 Junior Canadian Rangers.

“In order to ensure the safety and security of everyone who participates in our programs, the Commander of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group (BGen D.B. Cochrane) has decided to cancel all in-person cadet training activities until 31 August 2020,” Capt Laflamme-Savoie said.

“The Command Team of the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group continues to monitor the situation, the different measures put in place by Public Health Authorities as well as the actions of like-minded youth organizations to make sure that, when it is safe to do so, in-person training can start back up again,” she said.

But Cadets have been very active in the past few months. They have, for example, demonstrated their leadership and dedication to community service through their Virtual Vimy Remembrance activities and a virtual commemoration of the Battle of Atlantic.

“They will continue to display the strength of character and perseverance the Cadet program is known for through these trying times,” she said.

This pause of physical training opens new opportunities for the Cadet program. Over the last few months, key staff at the National Cadet and Junior Canadian Rangers Support Group explored new ways to take advantage of this pause in activities to innovate and implement new and exciting solutions. This summer, virtual training, led by members of the Cadet Organizations Administration and Training Service (COATS) as well as staff cadets, has been offered online to cadets across Canada.