celebrating the past - shaping the future: 75 years of air cadets in canada

By Sitraka Raoelimanohisoa, Air Cadet League of Canada

From January 2016 (Volume 22 Issue 12) 

 The event was an opportunity for the League to commemorate some important partnership with the Legion and RCAFA. The League's President, Mr. Don Doern gave Brad White, from the Royal Canadian Legion, a commemorative poster highlighting all the squadron's crests. (Sitraka Raoelimanohisoa)

 The event was an opportunity for the League to commemorate some important partnership with the Legion and RCAFA. The League's President, Mr. Don Doern gave Brad White, from the Royal Canadian Legion, a commemorative poster highlighting all the squadron's crests. (Sitraka Raoelimanohisoa)

Today, the Air Cadet Program is seen as Canada’s premier youth development movement.  Since its inception, nearly 2 million young Canadians have been air cadets.

This year marks a very significant milestone for the Air Cadet League of Canada and the Air Cadet Program as they will be celebrating 75 years of Air Cadets in Canada. What started as a response to the need of air combat support during World War II developed into a national youth program involving more the 25,000 young Canadians each year.

On Saturday November 21, 2015, a gala dinner took place commemorating the signing of the Charter that brought the Air Cadet Movement to life took place at Canadian Aviation and Space Museum and launched the celebration year.

Hamilton Watches, the official timekeeper of the Air Cadet League of Canada, provides each year watches to the 2 top air cadet pilots. Many Air Cadets, like the two young men in the photo, provided their help that evening. (Sitraka Raoelimanohisoa)

Hamilton Watches, the official timekeeper of the Air Cadet League of Canada, provides each year watches to the 2 top air cadet pilots. Many Air Cadets, like the two young men in the photo, provided their help that evening. (Sitraka Raoelimanohisoa)

Air cadets, guest speakers, special guests, officers, and members of the Air Cadet League of Canada were all present to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the Air Cadet Program and the achievements of some exceptional cadets, both past and present. The night was gracefully hosted by Catherine Clark, television broadcaster, journalist, writer and public speaker, who led the night through an evening of entertainment, history and recognition. The evening featured music from the Central Band of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and from the National Capital Region Tri-Element Cadet Band. The CAF Jazz Quintet provided the cocktail hour music and played a number of tunes to officially end the Gala evening. 

The National Capital Region Tri-Elemental Cadet Band performed  at the Air Cadet League's gala, marking the League's 75th anniversary. (Stan Monkman, Air Cadet League of Canada (ALBERTA) )

The National Capital Region Tri-Elemental Cadet Band performed  at the Air Cadet League's gala, marking the League's 75th anniversary. (Stan Monkman, Air Cadet League of Canada (ALBERTA) )

Guest speakers included personalities such as Major-General Jean-Robert Bernier, Chairman of the Committee of Chiefs of Military Medical Services in NATO, Lieutenant-Colonel (ret’d) Maryse Carmichael, accomplished pilot and first Canadian woman selected to fly with the Snowbirds, and Lieutenant-Colonel Jeremy Hansen, Canadian astronaut. Special presentations and messages were also part of the evening. His Excellency The Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, Col (ret’d) Chris Hadfield, Canadian Astronaut, Author & Musician, Marc Parent, President & CEO of CAE, and Johanna Wagstaffe, CBC Meteorologist, all contributed with special video messages.

Among the special guests present that evening were 40 air cadets from across Canada, who had participated to a three-day Air Cadet Leadership Symposium during the few days leading up to the Saturday dinner. This panel of cadets were brought together to share their insights and ideas on the symposium theme “The Next 75 Years of Air Cadets”. These air cadets have demonstrated their excellence, leadership and commitment to the ideals of the Air Cadet Program.

“I have been enrolled in the cadet movement since I was 12 years old and it has been the biggest positive impact I’ve had in my entire life. This past weekend being the highlight of my short, yet unforgettable 4 years in the program. These past few days enhanced my knowledge and leadership techniques at the same time devolved my own style of leadership and discovered new extents of being exhausted. My time there was fantastic, unfortunately the 4 days I was there was simply not long enough. As we know all good things must come to an end” says Andrew Spicer, one of the participants of the Leadership Symposium.

Throughout its history, the Air Cadet Program has continually grown and developed, ensuring that air cadets are able to face the needs and challenges of an ever-changing world.  Today’s Air Cadets are discovering how to solve problems in scientific, technical, creative and civil ways.  They will become tomorrow’s disciplined, strategic thinkers and leaders.  They will also become outstanding neighbors, employees, artists, technicians and professionals.  As they have been for 75 years, they will be strong Canadians.

A group photo at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum of those who attended the four-day Air Cadet Leadership symposium. (Stan Monkman, Air Cadet League of Canada (ALBERTA) )

A group photo at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum of those who attended the four-day Air Cadet Leadership symposium. (Stan Monkman, Air Cadet League of Canada (ALBERTA) )

Over the course of the coming year leading to the April 9, 2016, 75 years precisely after the Secretary of State of Canada by Letters Patent officially granted a Charter establishing the Air Cadet League of Canada, a variety of commemorative events will be taking place across the country to celebrate the past and shape the future of Air Cadets.