MANITOULIN – Miranda MacKay of Kagawong, a former petty officer first class with the Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps, received word recently that she had been chosen by the Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Education Foundation to receive a post-secondary scholarship. Ms. MacKay is currently in her first year of nursing at Nipissing University in North Bay.
While she hasn’t been told for what amount the scholarship will be, it will be in the range of $1,000 to $5,000.
Another scholarship on offer through cadets is the Irving Shipbuilding Scholarship for those cadets entering marine-related programs from welding to naval architecture.
“This is just one advantage of being a Sea Cadet,” the Corp’s Commanding Officer (CO), Sylvain Boucher tells The Expositor. “It’s so much more than just drills. It may be based on military tradition, but there are so many opportunities, like travel.”
CO Boucher notes that Island cadets have recently travelled as far as Nova Scotia, British Columbia and across the province for training and summer camps.
“We had one cadet last summer who acted as camp staff, so he was paid to do what he loves to do,” he adds.
And the famous Island corps marksmanship team has become a force to be reckoned with in the area circuit. And, in a first, an all-female team will be heading to Ottawa next month for a regional competition in orienteering.
As an added bonus, the cadets program is free to join, and the uniforms are paid for, too.
“People think that when they join the cadets they are part of the military—that’s not true, it’s a misconception,” the CO continues. “We’re not there to push that, although some cadets do go on to have a life in the military.”
Ms. MacKay began her cadet journey at age 13.
“There were a couple of boys in my class who talked about it a lot,” she tells The Expositor. She and her family saw them in action at the Manitoulin Trade Fair and she thought ‘Let’s give it a try,’ she recalls. “I liked it right away.”
By the time Ms. MacKay ‘aged out’ of the corps she had the ranking of Chief Petty Officer First Class and Coxswain, or head cadet.
When she’s not busy with schoolwork, Ms. MacKay is helping as a naval instructor with the North Bay Cadet Corps.
Ms. MacKay says the best thing about being a cadet “is the experience as a whole. I really enjoyed the leadership opportunities. I didn’t do the trips that many of the cadets do but instead focussed on the corps at home.”
As she got older, Ms. MacKay said she began to turn her attention to the young cadets and ensuring that they were having a great time, just as older cadets had done for her when she was a new member.
“Sea Cadets on Manitoulin, specifically, is a really tight-knit group—a friendly place to be and grow up,” Ms. MacKay adds. “The deployments, training are just a bonus. The friends you can make last a lifetime.”
The Sea Cadets meet each Monday night from 6 to 9 pm at Manitoulin Secondary School and anyone can join, and at any time, but must be at least 12 years of age. A health card and birth certificate are required to sign up.
There are currently 22 cadets registered but more are welcome.
“The more cadets we have the more interesting things we can do,” CO Boucher says.