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Cadets learn to lead in Whitehorse
Nunavut youth join counterparts from around the world at training centre

2nd Lt. David Moretta
Special to Northern News Services
Monday, August 17, 2015

The spirit of Nunavut is alive and well and making itself felt all summer long in the capital of the Yukon.

Right now more than 40 young people from the Eastern Arctic are living and learning alongside 200 army and air cadets from across Canada and the United Kingdom at the Whitehorse Cadet Training Centre.

"This is a remarkable opportunity for young Canadians to develop and learn by challenging themselves in one of the most unique and beautiful areas of the country," said Lt.-Col. Bruce Kiecker, commanding officer of the centre.

"Our goal is to provide a safe and fun environment for them to grow as individuals and develop a better appreciation for Canada."

That's a goal echoed by 16-year-old cadet Odadiah Sanguin of Rankin Inlet.

"I'm looking forward to making new friends and learning new stuff. To me, being a cadet means being responsible, learning new things and having fun," he said. "In cadets I have learned to be a leader."

In addition to the course cadets, many of the staff positions are filled by senior cadets, also from the North.

"Whitehorse is unique among the other Canadian training centres. Not only are we the only facility located North of 60 but we also support training in 15 communities across the entire Arctic region," said Kiecker.

The Canadian and UK exchange cadets currently at the training centre represent the Yukon, NWT, Nunavut, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec plus England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For many of the junior cadets, this is the first time away from their families and friends.

To help them adjust to the experience, the centre employs a full-time staff of counsellors and facilitators to help ease the transition, something Kiecker feels is critical.

"The cadets need to learn to live together. There are cultural differences to consider and it's our job to make sure everyone develops together," he said.

The challenges are unique but rewarding, "Some of the Northern cadets have never seen trees before and the southern cadets aren't used to all the daylight. We have to keep those challenges in mind. But by the end of the summer there will be a lot of teary eyes when they leave," Kiecker said. "It's like they're saying goodbye to family."

The Northern exposure isn't limited to the cadet population. Earlier this summer the centre was delighted to host several VIPs from Nunavut. Nunavut Commissioner Nellie Kusugak, 2nd Lt. Dorothy Tootoo, a recent recipient of the Polar Medal from Rankin Inlet, and her guest, elder Ivasaaq Issaluk from Rankin Inlet, toured the training centre to see first-hand the achievements of cadets from the North.

"I'm delighted and honoured to be part of such an important organization," said Tootoo. "The cadet program offers so many rich and rewarding opportunities for young people, especially in our Northern communities."

The Whitehorse Cadet Training Centre specializes in a wide range of programs including two-week general, three-week intermediate and six-week advanced instructor-level courses.

Fitness is a primary goal and all of the programming focuses on or includes a high level of outdoor experiences, including canoeing, hiking, camping, rappelling, rock climbing, mountain biking plus first aid, marksmanship and community service.

The cadet organization is the largest and most successful federal youth program and focuses on leadership, citizenship and physical fitness.

Training and travel is provided free of charge and cadets receive a training bonus during their summer experience.

Summer programming at the centre wrapped up with a final graduation parade on August 14.

  • 2nd Lt. David Moretta is the unit public affairs officer at the Whitehorse Cadet Training Centre.

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