Yellowknife Air Cadets to celebrate 50th anniversary


825 Elks Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron will next month celebrate 50 years since being formed to give teenagers training in leadership, teamwork and a range of activities.

The squadron takes Yellowknife children aged 12 to 18 and offers opportunities ranging from biathlon and marksmanship to public speaking and the chance to begin earning a private pilot’s licence.

“It gives an opportunity for youth,” said Darcy Cherwaty, who has been helping the Yellowknife program since 1981. “And we can’t expand on that enough in our communities, especially in northern communities.

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“It’s an ultimate program that gives not only some background in aviation but a lot of leadership skills. You can’t say enough about the air cadets as being proactive. community participants.”

The current cadet squadron commanding officer is 17-year-old Gordon Kwong.

“I make sure all our people are taken care of, making sure training gets done the way it needs to and people are learning the things they need to,” Kwong said of his role.

“What we try to do is take youth and form them into functioning members of society through discipline, drill, activities such as marksmanship and biathlon, and many different opportunities.”

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Kwong has just been enrolled into online ground school as he begins work toward a pilot’s licence.

For Paul McKee, things have been more down-to-earth.

McKee has spent nearly three decades helping to run summer camps, lead groups of cadets in biathlon and marksmanship training, and now prepare them for public speaking contests.

The public speaking team, he says, has been to nationals in seven of the past eight years, and other teams are performing well.

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“I’m very proud of our marksmanship, the way the team has formed up in the last couple of years,” McKee said.

“Our biathlon team is getting better and better, a stronger and stronger presence, not just for 825 but representing the North. The whole ‘867 waving the flag,’ if you will.”

McKee said the cadet program’s benefits extend beyond specific activities.

“It depends on the cadet. For some, it’s leadership. We teach them how to teach. We teach them how to get in front of folks. We teach them things like public speaking, give them confidence with sports and that sort of thing,” he said.

“Another kid, it might be just his confidence in public speaking or her confidence in a job interview. Another cadet, it might be teamwork.”

A dinner and ceremony celebrating the squadron will be held in early November.

“I’m very happy to be part of this 50th anniversary,” said McKee. “It’s really an exciting celebration and exciting time to be part of 825.”