WESTLOCK – After two challenging years, the 2467 Westlock Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps were back at attention for their 69th-annual Ceremonial Review.
The event, featuring seven participating cadets from Westlock and area, took place in front of family and friends during a ceremony June 13.
“COVID definitely affected our numbers as we have not been doing any in person training for the last two years,” said Capt. Ashley Olson commanding officer, 2467 Westlock Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps. “That’s been hard on the kids.”
Olson noted the growth and development by many cadets over the past year, overcoming several challenges throughout the pandemic and said the review is an opportunity to showcase skills learned, demonstrate progress and present cadets with awards and promotions.
“It’s their opportunity to celebrate with their friends and family and be acknowledged for the hard work and dedication that they put in throughout the year,” said Olson, adding that over the past year, cadets learned how to expect the unexpected.
“It was one of those things where these kids learned to have patience and how to persevere through unknown territory,” she said, noting virtual weekly meetings were also challenging, before they were able to meet again in person beginning at the end of March. “It was certainly a struggle to do any sort of the hands on, practical fun things,”
Westlock Legion president Marjorie Steele was invited to be the reviewing officer for the event, which included guests from the Alberta Army League.
Prior to the pandemic, the army cadet corps averaged about 20 cadets. Today, there are just seven, who range in age from 12 to 19. As part of the cadet program, cadets participate in several activities focusing on such areas as leadership, citizenship and community service, survival expeditions, skills training, navigating, and orienteering and for the past two years had to train virtually.
“The ACR (Annual Ceremonial Review) is the end of the cadet year, and we hand out the level qualification certificates for the cadets,” said Olson. “Every year they will get their level qualifications, there’s promotions for the cadets and extra special awards that go with those.”
One such award was special recognition for Chief Warrant Officer Alexa Biro, who served as a cadet in 2467 RACC from Sept. 30, 2014, to Sept. 29, 2021. She was invited to the ceremony because the pandemic prevented her from graduating and celebrating the occasion.
“It’s an honour. I was definitely a little sad that COVID ended my cadet career the way it did, but now that they’re allowed to have the in person (ceremony), it’s pretty nice to be welcomed back,” said Biro, noting a special memory she had was the leadership and challenge course at the Rocky Mountain Cadet Training Centre in 2019.
Looking ahead to next year, Olson said they are encouraging both cadets and adult volunteers to be a part of the 2467 RACC in Westlock.
“We need to recruit not only cadets but adult volunteers that are willing to work alongside with our parents support committee as well as potential CIC members — people who want to join the Cadet Instructor Cadre to be instructors for the cadets,” said Olson. “That’s a huge focus for this coming year as well as community involvement. Being able to show the community that we’re still here, we’re still active and we’re large supporters of the community we’re in, providing as much training opportunities to the cadets as possible.”