By Anthony Langlois, Air Cadet League of Canada
Back in 1991, the National President of the Air Cadet League of Canada, David Hayden, established a national competition that would affect the lives of air cadets to this day and that would exemplify the potential impact of League members on the Cadet Program. As a signature project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the League, Hayden developed the Effective Speaking Competition with the help of Executive Committee member J. Robert Goudie and Executive Director Richard Logan.
With the help of sponsors such as WestJet, which provides travel assistance for each cadet speaker as well as a parent/chaperone to attend the national competition, the League’s Effective Speaking Program enables the youth of today to develop an important skill that will benefit them in all their future endeavours.
Cadets start their journey at the squadron level, and then make their way to the regional, the provincial, and finally, the national competition where a grand winner is selected. Located this year in Winnipeg, the honours went to Warrant Officer First Class (WO1) Heather Blake from 514 Kinsmen Squadron in St. John’s, Newfoundland & Labrador. Second place was won by Warrant Officer Second Class (WO2) Cody Lincoln from 249 Beausejour Squadron in Beausejour, Manitoba, and third place by Flight Corporal (FCpl) Samantha Keow from 333 Lord Beaverbrook Squadron in Fredericton, New Brunswick.
WO1 Blake made her prepared speech on the theme of Women in aerospace while her impromptu speech was about Why I like my hometown. This was her second participation at the national level after being a finalist in the 2014 competition. She will age out of the program later this year and here is what she had to say regarding her cadet experience: “I can’t wait to give back to children all the amazing things that were given to me. I am off to Debert for the summer as a Glider Staff Cadet and I can’t wait to be able to share my passion for flight with younger cadets. It is so important for me to share all the things I’ve learned with the next generation coming up through the ranks, and the importance of the Effective Speaking competition is certainly one of them!”
Jay Shah was a finalist at the national competition in Winnipeg where he delivered a speech on Why the Air Cadet Program is important to Canada. He had the following to say about the program: “The National Effective Speaking competition was held the evening of June 15 at the Fort Garry Hotel. This was a wonderful location with a great setup. The Effective Speaking part of the Air Cadet Program is easily one of the least-known aspects of the program, but one with the highest value. One recommendation I would give is to increase the awareness of Effective Speaking so that more cadets become inclined to participate in the future. Speaking is an area that requires practice to do well, but it can help everyone every day throughout their lifetime.”
Next year’s competition will take place in Laval, Quebec, and the new themes for the competition are:
The importance of today’s youth in building Canada’s future.
How does volunteerism play a role in the life of your community or squadron?
Humour is the best medicine.
How space exploration can lead to scientific advances on Earth.
The role Indigenous people have played in Canada’s heritage.
How has Canada changed the face of aviation?
Lest We Forget.
Cadet’s Choice: The Cadet’s Choice must fit into one of these categories: Cadet Life, Science and Technology, Aviation, Canadian History or Citizenship.
In 2018, new cadets will take the stage for the first time while others will build on the skills they learned this year to reach new heights. In the end, they are all winners for seizing this opportunity for their future.