Shelburne risks losing Air Cadet program

Amy Woolvett
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By Amy Woolvett

It was with passion and well-expressed thoughts that members of both the air and sea cadets stood in front of the Nova Scotia Cadet Detachment Commander and pleaded their case to keep a much-loved program.

The air cadet program is currently under review to be shut down indefinitely.

Currently, the air and sea cadet units have combined in order to share services and reduce both cost and volunteer manpower.

There are only six air cadets in the Shelburne program but they are a passionate group unwilling to lose the program.

Young adults 12 to 18 get the opportunity to take part in flying, gliding and studies in aerospace while developing good leadership, citizenship and physical fitness. 

But with numbers so low for both air and sea cadets, organizers worry that both programs are at risk if they don’t remove the air cadet program.

“When the numbers get below 20 a red flag goes up,” said Major Bob Eagle the Nova Scotia Cadet Detachment Commander. 

“This community has a strong ability for the sea program and will benefit long term if they focus on that program,” he told the group of cadets and parents at a meeting held last Monday night.  “For kids set on air there is the option of going to another community.”

One parent told the Major that with the economic stability not great in Shelburne, it was not always feasible for parents to have to travel to the air cadet program in Liverpool.

Major Eagle said that if the program was cut, levels four and five would complete their air training to the end and younger levels would have the option of joining the sea cadets.

This decision hit hard for one young cadet, Harper LaPlante.  Following in his older brothers footsteps, he waited with anticipation three years before finally getting the opportunity to join this past September.

While he always knew he wanted to join, he did not realize how powerful the pull to fly would be.

“I thought when I first started here I would fail,” said LaPlante.  “Now that I am here I am proud to wear this uniform, I am proud to be an air cadet.  With the training I receive I plan on becoming a pilot in the military, serving my country the way I would like.  If you cut this squadron I won’t have that chance.”

If the plans for the air cadet program go through his only option to continue his training would be to travel to Liverpool.

“I will drive him to Liverpool if I have to,” said his mother Rhonda Baker LaPlante. “But of course I don't want to, I can neither afford it nor spare the time, but I do believe in the program and it's benefits.”

She said that there were so many things about the cadets that people in Shelburne County don’t know.

“Many of their summer courses, which the kids get paid to attend, are now also considered high school credit,” she said.

“I thought when I first started here I would fail,” said LaPlante. “Now that I am here I am proud to wear this uniform, I am proud to be an air cadet. With the training I receive I plan on becoming a pilot in the military, serving my country the way I would like. If you cut this squadron I won’t have that chance.” Harper

One parent asked if they could get the numbers up for the program would they be able to keep it.

But Major Eagle was skeptical.  He warned that if the sea cadets were to join the air then the sea cadets would then be threatened.

In order to keep both programs the numbers would have to each be 20.

“I don’t think you will get 40,” said Major Eagle.  “If we put a lot of resources into both we face risk of losing both.”

One sea cadet stood up to defend the air program saying that there were many opportunities to be on the sea in Shelburne County but very little to be in the air.

“If that is such an attraction here,” said Major Eagle.  “Where are the numbers?

Another parent spoke up to say they would be willing to pay a membership fee to keep the program open but Major Eagle was firm in saying that they have been working hard to keep the cadet programs free in Nova Scotia.

Major Eagle said that the decision would be a difficult one.

“I have to synthesize everything I have heard tonight and come to whatever decision is the right one for Shelburne,” he said.

His recommendations will travel to Ottawa where the final decision will be made.

Geographic location: Shelburne County, Liverpool, Nova Scotia Ottawa

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Recent comments

  • Karen Graczyk
    February 21, 2015 - 22:47

    I too am the CO of an Air Cadet Squadron (as far west you can get) that is slated to shut down if our numbers do not increase by a significant intake. Does anyone out there...anywhere...have any suggestions to bring in recruits?

  • Fight Sgt Bart
    April 18, 2013 - 19:01

    I myself Have been an air cadet for many years now and i have grown due to air Cadets i was once a boy who would go around breaking laws like no tomorrow but 534 raider Squadron straightened me out I am now an active member in the community and i try to be the best person i can be i am no longer in air Cadets due to person issues but i benefited from it. it was the best experience of my life but if you take away air cadets a lot of kids will not be as lucky as i was. a lot of people don't want to go to sea Cadets because of all the jokes about the navy and what not and Flying inspired me, it inspired me to have second out look on life and how beautiful this world can be. i have a cottage and ride boats there a lot even before i was in air cadets. air cadets inspired me to change the world and try and make it a better place as best as i can and if you take that away from these kids you may change there lives. you take it away many jobs shall be lost and lives ruin because they could never get the training they need to be successful in their field of jobs they may want. I was proud to wear that uniform and you take it away from them it will be a huge mistake their lives will be changed. even that boy who had no rank on him what so ever that i observed (i am assuming you are an AC) knows what kind of life changing experience that is and he appears to be a level one. so please i beg you do not take away the Air Cadet program from these kids they need it, just like i did Thank you.

  • April Moreau-Whynot
    April 16, 2013 - 19:50

    I myself am a Air Cadet Mom.... both my kids have been apart of the 545 Privateer Air Cadet Squadron for the past 4 yrs. I have seen Liverpool's squadrons numbers be so low that we were scared that we may loose ours. We went from only 20 some memebers last year to 60 some this year. If you promote them instead of give up on them ... they will come back. And if they are not willing to fund the Air Cadet program there they should maybe provide free transportation for those still wanting to be in Air Cadets to maybe here in Liverpool so that they can continue on doing what they love and that us the parents are proud of them for. And if that young man fighting back tears doesn't convince the powers that be to rethink there plans. They have no heart.

  • Air Cadet CO, Pacific Region
    April 15, 2013 - 23:54

    I am the Commanding Officer of an Air Cadet Squadron in Pacific Region and can speak from a point of fact when I state that there are many corps and squadrons that are well below the 20 cadet threshold. These units continue to parade as best they can and increase their training opportunity by conducting joint training exercises with close proximity units. There are many examples of Squadron and corps blending to share resources and personnel to ensure the viability of the participating units until recruiting improves. The best avenue, should an appeal to the Detachment Commander fail, is to contact DCadets in Ottawa.

  • Michael Abu-halagah
    April 15, 2013 - 13:08

    It's a real shame that this squadron may go under; I was an Air Cadet for 6 1/2 years as a retired WO1. I was very lucky to be a part of a large, well-funded squadron. It would be a shame if Shelburne loses this program, especially considering how passionate its members are. I think it's great that they at will at least allow them to continue in sea cadets (also being a great program), but it’s still a shame to see them lose the opportunities of the air cadet program.

  • Norma Nickerson
    March 11, 2013 - 21:19

    I am glad I had the chance to belong to the Air Cadet Squadron while I attended B.M.H.S. It saddens me to think that the program may be taken away. The program offers so much knowledge and self respect. It opens up the eyes of the teenagers involved, showing them and allowing them to do things that, otherwise, they woud not be able to do. Lets keep Cadets going!!! .

  • Penny Smith
    March 09, 2013 - 15:15

    The Air Cadets Program has been held in Shelburne for many years and has become a vital program for our youth. The program develops self-discipline and confidence and teaches the value of hard work. It also develops our youth to become good citizens and community leaders by motivating a desire to contribute positively to society. It is dishearteninig to know that the number of participants in such an incredibly worthwhile program will dictate whether it will remain or be discontinued. I hope that the heartfelt comments made by our youth will help Major Eagle realize that it is equally important to support the goals and ambitions of six very passionate air cadets as it is to support 20.

  • Nathan Collupy
    March 06, 2013 - 08:32

    This is disheartening to me and I very much hope that they can somehow survive. 738 has always had a tough time with attendance even back when I was a member... I guess in some ways that's just Shelburne for you ... I feel the Cadet programs need to be presented in new ways to better appeal to today's youth. A big part of the problem is that to most kids Cadets is like school and they don't realize how much benefit and enjoyment comes with being a member. Promote summer camp! My all-time best friends and memories were made at Cadet summer camps and I wouldn't trade those amazing character-building experiences for anything.

      March 08, 2013 - 11:24

      Wow, I watched this and it completely broke my heart. That little boy Harper, who is holding back his tears as he speaks, is my great Nephew, His mom is my Neice, and I know what a good mom she is. Just by the fact that she is proactive in taking time for her children, no matter how busy she is, allows them to become interested in something and gives them something to look forward to. It is a model that should be set by all parents. How sad it would be to have this opportunity taken away from all the young people in the Shelburne area. We all want our future generation of young people, who will be Canada's future, to have equal or better opportunities than we had ourselves. To take away a program like this would be counter productive in achieving this goal. I urge the powers that be, to take every action necessary, to make certain this program remains available for every child who would like to be a part of it. The program CAN and WILL help each and everyone of those incredible young people to grow up to be even more incredible adults.

  • kayla himmelman
    March 05, 2013 - 10:14

    My boyfriend Corey was in this corps and went on to be their C.I. Untill he and I moved. It saddens us both to see something like this hsppen to a group of such great teenagers.

  • Arwyn Frey
    March 04, 2013 - 21:09

    I am in the air cadet program, have been for four years now, and I have to say, joining when I was twelve was the best idea I've ever had. People don't understand what it's like for the cadets. You get a once in a lifetime experience with this program. You get the chance to get your glider pilot's license as well as your power pilot's license. You become a better leader and a more confident person. The air cadet program gives each cadet a place to fit in and be themselves. In the squadron, we're a family. The seniors help the new recruits and younger cadets. The cadets basically run the program too. People don't get the chance to see how much this program means to the cadets in it. To cut a squadron is like taking away someone's family. You just can't do that.

    • Monica Baker
      March 06, 2013 - 08:40

      The Air Cadets program in Shelburne helps the kids have a safe environment in which they can grow as a person. They can build relationships, life experiences and careers that would not otherwise be available to them. Both my nephews are in the progam, in additon to a few of their friends, they enjoy being part of the squadron and doing things as part of the program. They are excited about the things they are able to do and hope to further a career. If Cadets is taken from Shelburne the children may not have the opportunity as travelling to the next town is not something everyone can do. This program is important to everyone and the kids should have the chance to continue in Shelburne. Without this program they will not have the opportunities or relationships with others that are available to them with the program.

  • Jarred Allison
    March 04, 2013 - 20:34

    I was a great friends with a cadet from Shelburne on an aviation course this summer. His motivation, his devotion, his esprit de corps and his amiability were all phenomenal. It was extremely easy to see what huge part the program played in his life. Perhaps it's easy to over look what 6 people enjoy. But when you realize what they can become through Air Cadets, all the potential they can develop, brushing it off seems much harder. Recruitment rates rise and fall, perhaps in the following years they may see a spike in recruits. I also don't see an issue with the operating costs. The biggest expense will be a training area. This is costly, especially for a small number, but it isn't impossible to overcome. As for travelling and off-base events, I think if they collaborated with, say, Liverpool to coordinate, transport and fund things, things would flow extremely smoothly. Perhaps I'm deluded by personal bias. However, I think it would be a shame to see this monument in the air cadet's lives go to waste.

  • Leona Ringer
    March 04, 2013 - 13:25

    As a mother of two sons who both graduated from the air cadet program last year (one waiting to join the air force), it saddens me that my daughter will not get the same opportunity as they did to become part of such an educational and life guiding program. This is yet another blow to our town.....

  • Heidi Wagner
    March 04, 2013 - 07:58

    It is sad that this is happenening in our area. This program gives our kids a career choice and to some it is discipline and direction. We as parents, grandparents, friends can not let this happen. Don't stand back and say "Oh Well" stand up and fight for our kids. They our the next Mayors, Wardens and tax payers for our areas.We can't close our eyes and say "Oh Well" we need to need to fight for KIDS!!

  • Ardith Van Buskirk
    March 03, 2013 - 17:08

    As a Municipal Councillor, I am disappointed to think that the Shelburne Air Cadets Squadron will be ended. The program is a valuable asset to our community. We are trying to encourage people to move into the area. They are looking for programs such as Air Cadets to enroll their children in. Personally, my son was in the Shelburne Aire Cadets Squadron. The learning experience was invaluable. With the many stresses placed on today's families, unnecessary travel to Liverpool, just adds to the already heavy burden on those families who wish to be involved in this program. I hope the Government listens to its residents and does not end the Shelburne Air Cadet Squadron.

  • Lisa deMolitor
    March 03, 2013 - 14:01

    It's sad to see the air cadets in jeopardy. I'm concerned it will be only a matter of time when the sea cadets will face this same conclusion. :(

  • Michael Taylor
    March 03, 2013 - 13:56

    As you can see in this article, and it only expresses the thoughts and concerns of some of the cadets and parents that were at this meeting that we want our cadets and they should be given the same consideration as the sea cadets were given 18 months ago. As the community should be given the chance to give their input since there are a lot of prospective air cadets coming up from elemenyary scjool.

  • Rebecca Richardson
    March 03, 2013 - 12:37

    This is so sad! All my kids went through Air Cadets and I believe they received so much more from the program than anyone realizes. Is there enough advertizing by the government agencies that over see this program? Do parents know that this is a free program open to everyone male and female? Not like Scouts/Guides which you pay through the nose for. I know the numbers are down and it makes financial sense, but considering everything else the government wastes it money on, this is nothing. What they should be doing is a huge promotion of the program! They want kids off the streets, they want to give them a purpose, they want them to have a sense of community and compassion and yet they're taking away the very program that does those things. It just doesn't make sense socially!

  • Georgette Beaulieu
    March 03, 2013 - 08:59

    I think that the residents of Shelburne should go to Peter Stoffer and plead their case to continue having the air and see cadets programs. They always chant that they want the youths to be involved and "the future is in our young people". It is time to prove it.

  • Rhonda Baker-LaPlante
    March 02, 2013 - 13:18

    Thanks to everyone who spoke and showed support on Monday night. Thank you Amy for putting together this wonderful article.

    • owen
      March 03, 2013 - 07:30

      As a fresh pilot through cadets. i understandcompletly. I hope all goes well and your son gets his his lisence

    • SB
      April 15, 2013 - 02:07

      Hey! I want to do all I can to help, I am a Sgt in Pacific Region. PLease consider liking this page, getting signitures and scanning them to me! SB

  • Allen Smith
    March 02, 2013 - 10:01

    I read this article with sad feelings because as a student at Barrington Municipal High and participating in both sea and air cadets it was a very educational and rewarding experience,sad to hear they may be lost in your area I wish all the best in trying to keep these programs in place.