'Lots of excited 12-year-olds' as Cambridge Bay's cadet corp continues to grow
'It’s good to see our corp growing again,' says training officer. 'Now we need to work on holding them'
With the help of 12-year old Jasmine Palituq, Sasha Evetalegak, also 12, laces up her black leather combat boots.
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They're two of the newest members of 3004 Loyal Edmonton Regiment Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corp, in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.
"I feel confident and I think we are going to be ready," said Evetalegak, before heading into one of their last practices before Remembrance Day.
In Cambridge Bay, the cadet corp organizes and runs the community's service to remember fallen veterans — and this year, there are a lot more hands to help out. Thirty members strong, the Cambridge Bay army cadet corp is the largest it's been since the mid 1990s, according to Second Lieutenant Christopher Kalluk.
"It's been a really exciting year," said Michelle Buchan, who has spent hours getting the newest cadets fitted in their dress uniforms. "We've had a lot of our senior cadets leave in the last few years. So we have been rebuilding the corp from the ground up."
"Lots of work. Lots of training. Lots of excited 12 year olds."
Formed in 1985, the corp in Cambridge Bay is one of six in Nunavut, which has 201 Army cadets, total. Members range from 12 to 19 years old.
"When cadets first started there was 15 (members). It ramped up... to maybe 40 or 50 in the corp," said 2nd Lt. Kalluk.
Kalluk says the numbers dropped off in the late 1990s, at one point dipping down to under 15 full-time members.
"I think there's a booming population in Cambridge Bay due to Canadian High Arctic Research Station," he said of the recent growth.
Jasmine Palituq moved to Cambridge Bay from Clyde River, Nunavut. As a rookie in cadets, she's still learning the ropes, and says her mom, a former Canadian Ranger, was a big influence in her joining.
"I really wanted to feel how she feels," said Palituq. "I feel proud of myself. I feel helpful and responsible."
For 12-year-old Malachai Angulalik, cadets is also a family affair.
"My whole family went through cadets. [I was] very happy and excited to join cadets. It's fun and I want to go traveling."
An with more members comes more opportunity for the cadets, said 2nd Lt. Kalluk.
"You have the numbers, you can develop more programs for cadets. You can do stuff like a band, or you can get more involved in biathlon, or have more competition when it comes to marksmanship.
"It develops a stronger team altogether"
More members also helps builds "a feeling of belonging," said Buchan, who says demands from jobs and school sports often pull older cadets away from the corp.
"It's good to see our corp growing again. Now we need to work on holding them."