By Maria Granados, Communications Coordinator, The Navy League of Canada
Almost 6,000 volunteers across Canada help facilitate the Navy League Cadet and Royal Canadian Sea Cadet programmes, among which is an individual with a name familiar to many across Canada: our National President, Earle Corn. He began his journey with the Navy League’s Nova Scotia Division 17 years ago as a retired Lieutenant from the Royal Canadian Navy and was elected our National President this spring.
Unlike many of our volunteers who are ex-cadets themselves or had children in the programmes, Earle had never heard of Cadets until his last posting in the Navy when he was the Nova Scotia Detachment Area Cadet Officer. Earle worked directly with the 27 Sea Cadet Corps within his area and learned the ins and outs of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet programme and the many individuals that continue to bring it to life. He saw first hand how the training developed skills in our youth such as confidence, self-esteem, and leadership capabilities — skills that took him 10 years in the Royal Canadian Navy to learn.
Earle has always believed that the future of our country is in our youth, and he continues to see it every day. As our National President he has had the opportunity to visit various Cadet Training Centres to talk with the adult staff and the cadets to find out what drives them to continue being involved with the Sea Cadet programme. He says the best way to talk to anyone is to get on their level and talk to them on their level, not from above, and certainly not from below. It’s his tried and tested way to understand their challenges and concerns and to motivate young leaders in a way that resonates with them.
And indeed his chats do resonate with the cadets. Years after speaking with cadets, Earle receives many words of appreciation from past cadets with whom he spoke or mentored during his travels across Canada. Lt(N) John Brannen is one of many individuals who credits Earle for his mentorship both as a sea cadet and now as a Cadet Instructors Cadre (CIC) officer. He says that, “Earle has that uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re the most important person in the room — even if there happens to be an admiral in the room and you’re a junior cadet. In his speeches, he would say things that would really resonate with the parents, things that the cadets needed to hear to stick with the program and things to keep the officers engaged and enthusiastic about Cadets.”
But that recognition doesn’t phase Earle. Instead, he uses those encounters to further fuel his purpose and mission with The Navy League of Canada. During his time volunteering with the Nova Scotia Division, he became in touch with the importance of branch members and the work that they do at the local level. The support that they provide for both Sea Cadets and Navy League Cadets is unparalleled and the relationship they build with the Corps officers and the community is essential for success.
Earle found that no two individuals had the same backgrounds and that each of their expertise and skill sets offered new perspectives — a concept he became familiar with in the Navy. He recalls his time as the Halifax base chief when he had the first woman ever working in his office as the administrative assistant. A different period in time, he received many questions about his experience working with a woman. He told his many observers that, “It was the best thing that happened to our office because she offered a different perspective that none of the men were able to see.”
Today, Earle focuses his energy on strengthening the Navy League’s community. He firmly believes that the key to a National Board is not in the leadership, but in the diversity of the Board. It’s extremely important that every person has different backgrounds. He strives to recognize the importance of each individual at all levels of the organization, including the cadets themselves.
With a presence in over 230 communities and an impact in approximately 10,000 young Canadian lives, The Navy League of Canada would not be where it stands today without the hard work of its members. Supporting two of the largest maritime-themed youth programmes takes some serious manpower, and Earle Corn is the Navy League’s leading man.