Chances are, you probably know someone who is in the Cadet program, whether Air, Army, or Navy. Ask them and they’ll probably love or hate the program. Most can agree Cadets comes with opportunities galore, and those able to adjust to the system also benefit from it. This program is rewarding, especially for the top senior Cadets who are selected to participate in summer camps and represent not only their home squadron, but their region on a national, or even global scale. However, for some, Cadets is tiring, with strict rules of discipline and huge amounts of pressure.

I have been in Air Cadets for three years, feeling both the pressures and joys of the program. I went to Vernon in the summer to participate in a three week Basic Drill and Ceremonial Course, met amazing people, but also had to forego almost half my summer. I also just came back from a field training exercise, or FTX, sleeping overnight in Chilliwack on snow that came halfway up to my knees and got sick. Fun.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, I thought it would be interesting just to look at how the Canadian government wants to develop the next generation. In fact, it is one of the largest federally sponsored youth programs, with a $250 million dollar budget. As Cadets, we earn money to go to summer camps, though not a lot. During FTXs, the meals we eat, MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) are chock full of preservatives, rather gross, and cost more than normal food. Likewise, going gliding and fam flying as Air Cadets cost a significant amount of money.

The most interesting idea I found is that the government chose a military-based program to develop for youth. Canada is known for being a peace-loving country, and it is an image I’m sure the government will work to maintain. The relation between Cadets and the military is an interesting question brought up as the government sees the program as “an important investment in our youth today and a means of safeguarding our future tomorrow.”

The Cadets page on the Canadian government’s website states Cadets are not in the military, but the program is very similar to the military.  Like the military, Cadets address ranks, learn skills such as shooting a rifle, and participate in similar activities. Both the Cadet program and military value a highly-structured, well-organized system, with strict rules and regulations.

The program now focuses less on developing future soldiers and more on building strong citizens, stating that “while they are introduced to Sea, Army and/or Air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces and certain traditions, they are also introduced to many other respectable career choices that are available to them.” However, the program started out as way to develop soldiers, and the system clearly reflects military values like cooperation and discipline.

Veronica Xia

Flight Corporal

Tiger Flight

655 Richmond RCACS

(That’s how to close an email in Cadets!)