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Cadets tested in hometown

Roxanna Thompson
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, February 3, 2011

LIIDLII KUE/FORT SIMPSON - In the end it all came down to precision in drill as five teams of cadets met in competition.

NNSL photo/graphic

Following the commands of Sgt. Jennifer Gast, not seen, the Fort Simpson team completes the drill competition. The team included from left, Master Cpl. Ernest Tsetso: Cpl. Maeve Dempsey, Lance-Cpl. Mary Drake, Lance-Cpl. Devon Horassi. Lance-Cpl. Tyler Lafferty and Lance-Cpl. Tristen Thurber-Tsetso. - Roxanna Thompson/NNSL photo

From Jan. 29 to 30, 35 cadets participated in the Western Arctic Area Skills Competition in Fort Simpson.

It was the first time the village hosted the annual competition that challenges cadets in four events centred around skills developed in the army and air cadet programs.

The team of seven cadets from 2860 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Fort Simpson, including, Sgt. Jennifer Gast, Master Cpl. Ernest Tsetso, Cpl. Maeve Dempsey, Lance-Cpl. Mary Drake, Lance-Cpl. Tristen Thurber-Tsetso, Lance-Cpl. Tyler Lafferty and Lance-Cpl. Devon Horassi finished in fourth behind Whitehorse army cadets in first, Inuvik in second and Norman Wells in third. The Whitehorse air cadets took fifth place.

The competition was extremely close with each team having one area of expertise, said Lieut. Steve Nicoll, the commanding officer for 2860.

Fort Simpson's expertise came in marksmanship. The team finished first in the event and Cpl. Maeve Dempsey was named the top shooter.

In the event the cadets fire five pellets from an air rifle and are scored on the tightness of their grouping. Dempsey's shots were almost on top of each other.

"I think I did pretty good," Dempsey said about her marksmanship.

Overall the team improved during the practices leading up to the competition, she said.

"I was impressed," said Dempsey.

Coming off of a strong initial performance the team faced the leadership challenge. In the timed event each team has to pull a sled laden with gear a set distance, set up a tent and boil a pot of water on a camp stove. Fort Simpson finished in third after struggling with a malfunctioning stove.

The team also finished third in volleyball, the sport event. The finish was impressive considering volleyball has always been the team's weakest skill, Nicoll said.

With one first and two thirds Fort Simpson was tied with Norman Wells going into drill.

The event, which includes an inspection, requires one cadet to memorize a series of 31 commands and give them in order while the remaining six cadets carry them out.

Drill takes a lot of discipline and is an intense physical and mental challenge, Nicoll said.

"You have to be in absolute physical control of your body," he said.

Fort Simpson finished fifth in drill giving the team an overall fourth place finish. The team showed a high level of motivation considering most of the cadets didn't realize what they were getting into when they tried out for the team, Nicoll said.

Hosting the competition in the village provided an opportunity for cadets from the Western Arctic Area to visit Fort Simpson. It also allowed staff from the Regional Cadet Support Unit (North), which is based in Whitehorse, to see the challenges and successes that come from working in the smaller communities, Nicoll said.

While the competition tests the breadth of the skills taught in the cadet program from teamwork to raising a tent it also meets the important

goal of promoting socialization between the cadets, he said.

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