Proud mo­ment

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE - SARA ERIC­S­SON

Hun­dreds of cadets fin­ish their time with HMCS Aca­dia.

The pride of fam­i­lies, friends, in­struc­tors and grad­u­ates was ev­i­dent as 500 cadets from across Canada and the United King­dom grad­u­ated Aug. 17 from HMCS Aca­dia at the for­mer CFB Cornwallis.

There are about 60,000 youths, ages 12 to 18, who par­tic­i­pate in cadets an­nu­ally in Canada.

Of that to­tal, about 1,000 grad­u­ate from the cadet train­ing cen­tre in Cornwallis each year. This was the last grad­u­a­tion of 2017 at the base.

Emo­tions and ex­cite­ment ran high for grad­u­ates and staff cadets.

16-year-old Petty Of­fi­cer 2nd Class Oliver Wilkes, a sail in­struc­tor, de­scribed why the mo- ment was bit­ter­sweet.

“Com­ing here ev­ery year is an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. You make best friends here that are closer than school friends, so it’s tough to see them go,” he said.

“It’s so worth it though. I know I’m very proud of the cadets I’ve worked with.”

An­other staff cadet, CTC Base Chief sail in­struc­tor and Chief Petty Of­fi­cer first class Niko­las Suther­land agreed.

“It’s ex­cit­ing to think of go­ing home, but it’s also hard in a way to say good­bye to the peo­ple you meet here,” he said.

“I al­ways miss the amaz­ing sun­sets too.”

For the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony, the grad­u­ates – made up of sea cadets in white shirts, air force cadets in blue, and army cadets in green – marched in groups into the pa­rade square, where they were in­spected by re­view­ing of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing Bri­gadier Gen­eral Kelly Woiden.

Woiden first in­spected the cadets car­ry­ing flags, laugh­ing and help­ing those whose flags had blown across their faces as they stood at at­ten­tion for the in­spec­tion.

He spoke to each cadet he met, of­fer­ing words of wis­dom or a joke as he fixed flap­ping flags from faces.

“Let me get that for you,” he said to one such cadet, as both grinned.

After the in­spec­tion cer­e­mony, sev­eral cadets were pre­sented with awards of dis­tinc­tion and saluted their pre­sent­ing of­fi­cer as they walked up onto the dais. Cheers erupted for each cadet re­ceiv­ing an award, mak­ing very clear the ex­is­tence of sup­port and team­work among the grad­u­ates.

After the gra­da­tion cer­e­mony, 14-year-old Guns Crew Mem­ber Cole Oak­ley spoke of his time on base.

“The weeks I was here flew by so fast,” he said.

“It’s been such a great op­por­tu­nity and I can’t be­lieve I’m grad­u­at­ing. I’ve learned a lot and met a lot of new peo­ple dur­ing my ba­sic sea­man­ship course,” he said.

After the grad­u­a­tion came the less for­mal sun­set cer­e­mony and speeches from var­i­ous of­fi­cers in lead­ing roles at the base.

After his speech, HMCS Com­mand­ing Of­fi­cer Brent New­some spoke of his pride in the cadets.

“I’m im­mensely proud of the cadets for ev­ery­thing they’ve ac­com­plished this sum­mer and for the ob­sta­cles and chal­lenges they’ve over­come. They’re just an in­cred­i­ble group of kids,” he said.

New­some has worked with cadets for 26 years but never tires of see­ing them grad­u­ate.

“Ev­ery year feels dif­fer­ent be­cause you know the unique chal­lenges of that year.”

Field guns and mus­kets fired as the sun­set cer­e­mony drew to a close, the air fill­ing with a light smoky haze as cadets said good­bye to each other.

“You don’t want to leave the friends you meet here,” said Oak­ley.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

500 cadets grad­u­ated at this year’s last cer­e­mony at HMCS Aca­dia in Cornwallis Park.

SARA ERIC­S­SON

The first of many awards given out at the cer­e­mony, all of which re­ceived big cheers from fel­low cadets, friends and fam­i­lies.

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