Kamsack air cadets’ season cut short, no Annual Ceremonial Review

An unprecedented pandemic caused by the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic suspended training for the Kamsack 633 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron.

The smell of freshly polished boots will not fill the Kamsack Comprehensive Institute’s (KCI) gym this May as it has for the previous 62 years, according to the squadron.

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This year’s cadets will not get the chance to showcase themselves at the Annual Ceremonial Review which normally takes place at this time of the year. At this parade, our cadets are usually presented with their promotions and their proficiency badges. The cadets then move to the Legion for a banquet and the presentation of exemplary or outstanding achievement awards.

Unfortunately, in-person cadet activities were suspended in March due to COVID-19 and remain suspended until the end of August, the release continued.

The 2019-2020 cadet training year started last September with seven new cadets with all but one of last year’s cadets returning, except for two cadets that had graduated. We began with the exciting news that our Commanding Officer, Karen Tourangeau, was promoted from Second Lieutenant to Lieutenant at a Commanding Officer’s Seminar on Sept. 15, 2019.  The month ended with our squadron hosting a Biathlon Day with the Swan River squadron. The new cadets were taught how to use air rifles, and then all cadets participated in a run and shoot.

In October, we joined the Yorkton squadron and went to Saskadet, a cadet training site north of Kelvington, for two days of survival training activities. 

November was a very busy month for cadets. They participated in/and or helped with Poppy Day (a community poppy drive initiative), a special Honour the Vets service at the United Church, the Legion Tea, two Remembrance Day ceremonies held at the schools (KCI and Victoria), the Legion Remembrance Day service at Victoria School, the Togo Remembrance Day service at the Togo Cenotaph and the Remembrance Day banquet at the Legion. This year, for the first time, the air cadets participated in a “No Stone Left Alone (NSLA)” ceremony at the Riverview Cemetery. Along with the Legion President, Jim Woodward, and his sister, Judy Green (Legion trustee), they laid a poppy on each and every veteran’s grave. The NSLA movement began nine years ago, in Canada, and has now become recognized internationally, with ceremonies conducted in communities around the world. We also had eight cadets travel to Yorkton to participate in the Zone Biathlon competition. Corporal Brooklyn Taylor and Flight Corporal Gerri Basaraba earned spots at Provincials in February.

In December we had our annual Christmas Parade, with Jim Pollock as acting Reviewing Officer. We recognized a few promotions and accomplishments at that time. The evening ended with supper at the Legion. 

We had two more cadets join the Kamsack squadron in January.

In February, we wished our two Biathlon competitors, Taylor and Basaraba, “good luck” at the Provincial Biathlon Competition and they made us proud, bringing home silver medals in the relay competition. 

March began with Kamsack’s Mayor, Nancy Brunt, coming to a parade night to explain how municipal government works. Captain Mark Forsythe of the Kamsack Volunteer Fire Department (KVFD) also attended the evening with the cadets and explained how a Volunteer Fire Department works, and expanded on the opportunities that are available for cadets. Our annual volleyball tournament had been scheduled for March 14. For this event, we invite seven squadrons to play volleyball all day and finish with a banquet and dance. It is one of the highlights of our year as cadets get to reunite with cadets they have met at previous tournaments or at cadet summer training. Unfortunately, cadet training was suspended across the country on March 12, and the tournament had to be cancelled. 

Trying to finish our training has been a challenge but our cadets have stepped up and most have finished their training by reading material sent to them, and doing confirmation quizzes. Another big event we will miss is going gliding this year. As well, at this time of year, our cadets would normally spend three or four evenings and a Saturday afternoon cleaning the Veteran’s plot, the Cenotaph downtown, and the Legion yard. The cadets really enjoy doing this community service for the Legion and the town and are always immensely proud of the end results. This year the cadets will have to miss participating with the Legion in the Decoration Day ceremony held on the first Sunday in June.

We are both optimistic and hopeful that if the suspension of training is lifted in the fall, the cadets will be able to help the Legion with fall clean-up of the Legion yard.

The final disappointment of the training year was the news that summer training courses were cancelled for this summer.

There have been some disappointments for the Civilian Committee as well. The Spring Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser, which was to be held the last Monday in March, had to be cancelled, as was our door-to-door bottle drive, which was to be held the first Saturday in May. However, parents are able to do curbside pickup of bottle donations when contacted. Our annual concession booth at the Canada Day celebrations has also been cancelled.

The squadron is incredibly grateful and truly fortunate to have amazing community support. Kamsack 633 Squadron is home to a great group of cadets who are community leaders in the making; we will reconvene as soon as we are able to do so. Once we know when in-person training can resume, we will be advertising the dates and times for registration in the Kamsack Times.