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Learning the ropes in Edmonton
Inuvik Army Cadets spend a week in the shoes of Canadian soldiers

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Thursday, May 24, 2012

A week living on a Canadian military base is not for the faint of heart, but for five youth who travelled to Edmonton last week to live alongside full-time soldiers, the experience they received was worth the hard work.

NNSL photo/graphic

Sgt. Don Gruben of the Inuvik Army Cadets sits in the "commander's seat" in a Bison military vehicle at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton last week.

While it was a gruelling week, there were absolutely no complaints out of his cadets, said Capt. Paul MacDonald, the commanding officer of the Inuvik Army Cadets.

"There were smiles, they were proud of themselves for accomplishing what they did, for example the obstacle course," said MacDonald.

Inuvik Army cadets travelled to Edmonton from May 14 to 20 to visit their affiliated unit to experience life as a soldier for a week.

The purpose of the trip was "to give cadets from Inuvik an introduction to military life," said MacDonald. "It's to promote an interest within the Canadian Forces. It by no means forces them, but if you don't know where to go or what to do after high school, this is something to consider."

Five cadets travelled from Inuvik to live on the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton, under the supervision of MacDonald and Const. Derek Young from the Inuvik RCMP

The Inuvik youths who participated in the retreat were Chief Warrant Officer Connor McLeod, Master Warrant Officer Lydia O'Connor, Master Cpl. Orion Donovan, Sgt. Don Gruben and Master Cpl. Halli Bjornson.

Cadets were put through the paces of real military life on a Canadian base throughout the week, including early-morning physical training and rucksack parades with other soldiers.

Each cadet had the chance to fire a C-7 military simulator rifle, tour the sniper cage and tank on base, and make two runs each through the obstacle course.

The 742 Signal Squadron, which the group was visiting at the Canadian Forces Base in Edmonton, acts as the field unit for the Inuvik Army Cadets. For the past three years, the squadron has visited Inuvik for Remembrance Day. During the visit this past November, the two groups decided to also co-ordinate a cadet visit to the military base, said MacDonald.

Of the five cadets from Inuvik who MacDonald supervised along with Const. Derek Young from the Inuvik RCMP, two have expressed interest in pursuing a career.

"That tells me that what we did gave them a real taste of military life," said MacDonald.

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