High­est hon­our

City of Char­lot­te­town grant­ing P.E.I.’s Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps Free­dom of the City to mark 100th an­niver­sary

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - BY MITCH MACDON­ALD

Skye Wat­son knows she wouldn’t be the per­son she is to­day with­out the Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps (RCSCC).

The Dro­more res­i­dent, who al­ways had an in­ter­est in sail­ing, joined the 23 RCSCC (Kent) in Char­lot­te­town when she was 12 years old af­ter hear­ing from friends who were in­volved in the pro­gram.

It’s a pro­gram that Chief Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Wat­son has flour­ished in dur­ing the past six years.

This past year, she has been de­ployed to Eng­land and France to work on a tall ship for three weeks and was one of 50 sailors across Canada se­lected to com­pete in the Cana­dian Olympic Regatta Kingston 2017 Na­tional Sea Cadets Sail­ing Regatta last month.

The ex­pe­ri­ence also has her poised for a promis­ing start to her ca­reer, with hopes of at­tend­ing the Cana­dian Coast Guard Col­lege next year.

“Cadets re­ally helped me make that de­ci­sion,” said Wat­son, who now coaches sail­ing and marks­man­ship to other cadets. “It’s been one of the great­est op­por­tu­ni­ties I’ve had, and I wouldn’t be the per­son I am to­day with­out cadets. It’s given me so many other op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

How­ever, she won’t be leav­ing be­fore spend­ing one last mile­stone year with the RCSCC.

With 2018 mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the RCSCC, the corps will be rec­og­nized by the City of Char­lot­te­town dur­ing a spe­cial cer­e­mony to­day.

Mayor Clif­ford Lee and mem­bers of coun­cil will grant Free­dom of the City to P.E.I.’s Corps, which also in­cludes Rus­tico’s 323 RCSCC and Sum­mer­side’s 85 RCSCC.

About 75 cadets will march from the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment com­plex park­ing lot to city hall at ap­prox­i­mately 10:30 a.m. for a cer­e­mony open to the pub­lic.

Free­dom of the City is the high­est hon­our a city can be­stow, and the his­toric tra­di­tion sig­ni­fies a city’s trust in a mil­i­tary unit, or­ga­ni­za­tion or dig­ni­tary. It serves as an of­fi­cial wel­come, grant­ing the group the free­dom to pa­rade or visit the city at leisure.

“It’s an an­cient tra­di­tion… it’s a great hon­our to be com­mand­ing of­fi­cer dur­ing the 100th an­niver­sary and an hon­our to accept this Free­dom of the City,” said Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer Terry Scott.

The cer­e­mony will be fol­lowed by a 100th an­niver­sary din­ner that evening with dig­ni­taries, in­clud­ing Earle Corn, pres­i­dent of the Navy League of Canada.

Wat­son par­tic­i­pated in a Free­dom of the City cer­e­mony while work­ing at a cadet camp in An­napo­lis Royal this sum­mer.

How­ever, this one be­ing closer to home will make it a lit­tle more spe­cial.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity def­i­nitely for show­cas­ing what we do in sea cadets be­cause I feel it’s not seen as much as it should be for how great of a pro­gram it is,” said Wat­son.

The cer­e­mony will be the lat­est in a lengthy, strong re­la­tion­ship be­tween the city and RCSCC.

An early form of the cadets, cre­ated by the Navy League of Canada and called the Boys Naval Brigade, was in Char­lot­te­town in 1917 to teach young men about mil­i­tary life.

“Char­lot­te­town was very early in start­ing a cadet pro­gram,” said Scott. “Char­lot­te­town def­i­nitely has a very strong mil­i­tary his­tory and naval mil­i­tary his­tory.”

Scott said the Char­lot­te­town Corps’ ap­prox­i­mate 25 cadets are also ex­cited about the cer­e­mony, not­ing that they were pre­vi­ously awarded a spe­cial 100th an­niver­sary pin to wear on their uni­forms.

“It was a pretty neat hon­our,” said Scott, adding how mil­i­tary uni­forms rarely change. “So, it’s quite a thing when some­thing new shows up on your uni­form.”

Scott said the RCSCC in­stills a lot of ben­e­fi­cial at­tributes into youth.

“Pride in them­selves, pride in their dress and de­port­ment. Cit­i­zen­ship is a big part,” said Scott, adding that within a few years older cadets be­come men­tors to younger mem­bers. “Lead­er­ship is a big thing… (cadets) learn quickly to pay back to the cadet unit.”

Many who join the group keep re­turn­ing. That in­cludes Mas­ter Sea­man David Chen, who joined about two and a half years ago and hasn’t looked back.

“I think I’ll keep do­ing cadets un­til I’m old enough to go to univer­sity. It’s fun, the sail­ing, the sum­mer camps. It’s great,” said Chen.

It’s an en­deav­our that Wat­son would rec­om­mend to any­one.

“Def­i­nitely. Even if they don’t like sail­ing, if you just want to make friends and have a good time. It’s only one day per week and it’s def­i­nitely worth it.”

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Chief Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Skye Wat­son, left, Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer Terry Scott and Mas­ter Sea­man David Chen stand out­side the HMCS Queen Char­lotte where the 23 Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps (Kent) train ev­ery week. The corps, as well as Sea Cadet Corps in Rus­tico and Sum­mer­side, will be hon­oured for their 100-year an­niver­sary to­day dur­ing a cer­e­mony in Char­lot­te­town where they will be granted Free­dom of the City.

MITCH MACDON­ALD/THE GUARDIAN

Mem­bers of the 23 Royal Cana­dian Sea Cadet Corps (Kent) prac­tise march­ing in an­tic­i­pa­tion of the Free­dom of the City cer­e­mony be­ing held in Char­lot­te­town to­day.

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