Canadian Armed Forces Cadet Engagement “Tech Talks”
Fighter pilots and underwater snipers kicking in doors with cunning one-liners. This is the image that comes to mind for many Canadians when they think of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Our nation’s youth, including Sea, Army and Air Cadets, sometimes have the same mental picture. While this image could be the reality for some CAF members, it certainly is not a true representation of the day-to-day routine for most of our team.
Introducing cadets to what it is we actually do in the CAF, and interacting with them, is an important aspect of the Canadian Cadet Organization (CCO). Stimulating an interest in the sea, land, and air activities of the Canadian Armed Forces is one of the aims of the CCO, along with developing the attributes of good citizenship and leadership, and promoting physical fitness.
The Northwest region of the CCO has 217 corps and squadrons in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and the Yukon. Engaging with cadets across the 7th largest geo-political landmass in the world (between India and China in area) is logistically difficult. The CO, LCol Kevin Diduck, capitalizes on Instagram to share messages across the region, @CO_CadetsNW_NO. Another method of introducing cadets to the CAF is through interactive webinar where guest presenters spend about 35 minutes talking to cadets about their occupation, and career highlights. Cadets are introduced to the realities of CAF trades, the hard work and dedication our team members put forth each day, and reliance on safety and teamwork to accomplish our National Defence goals. Not every day is sunshine and lollipops, but we have fantastic measures in place to ensure we can still safely achieve our mission.
These presentations are nicknamed “Tech Talks”, where the focus is on the many personnel that keep the CAF afloat at sea, solid on land, and safe in the air. Tech Talks is an obvious play on words, but the format offers cadets the opportunity to see first-hand the many trades required to keep Canada Strong, Secure, and Engaged, and provides them an insight to help make informed decisions about their education and career goals. The interactive nature enables cadets to ask direct questions about the presenter’s trade, or a piece of equipment. Guest presenters are any rank, any trade, and share their own personal stories with the cadets of the region.
Presenters such as Sgt Natalie Veilleux, a Material Management Technician, and the A/Material Production Officer working at 17MSS, come from across the CAF. She talked to cadets across the prairies, and with the remote nature of the audio-visual rig, was able to conduct a tour of the warehouse in real-time. Cadets were able to ask her questions about her role there. The opportunity to interact with a CAF member was phenomenal!
At 402 (City of Winnipeg) Squadron, Avionics Systems Technician Cpl Justin McKinlay drew on his innate technical ability and demonstrated some troubleshooting techniques for electrical components of the CT-142 Dash-8. He recanted some memories of tracing unlabelled wiring to find snags in the system, which was instrumental in keeping the aircraft serviceable. Cadets learned which specialists receive intense training which qualifies them to certify aircraft components as airworthy; they also learned about spec pay.
No Hollywood movie has ever starred a MMT, nor an AVS tech, but it is these folks who are the stars of the CAF~Cadet Engagement Tech Talks program. It is the dedication of sailors, soldiers and aviators like Sgt Veilleux and Cpl McKinlay that have a direct and positive influence on Canadian youth, ultimately generating better citizens for Canada.
Check out the CO’s Insta! @CO_CadetsNW_NO