Commanders with the local 696 Air Cadet Squadron will be hosting a Freedom of the City ceremonial service and have invited Blind River council to participate in the event that will be held in May, marking the squadron’s 60th anniversary.
Commanding officer Lieutenant Dennis Meeking, along with second in command Lt. Tammy VanRoon, extended the invitation with a presentation to council Monday evening.
Prior to the presentation, Lt. VanRoon said the squadron currently has 22 members from communities along the North Shore who meet each Wednesday evening at the public school in Blind River.
Lt. Meeking gave a brief history of the Air Cadet League of Canada, established on Nov. 11, 1940. Its main purpose at the time was to train personnel for air combat during the Second World War.
“Air Cadet Squadrons were quickly formed across the country and by September 1944, the movement reached its peak wartime strength of 374 squadrons with 29,000 cadets, 1,750 instructors and another 2,000 civilians who supplied financial and other support,” Lt. Meeking told councillors. “The primary purpose of the League during its formative years was a practical military one, but its founders were also thinking of long-term benefits of Air Cadet training which could only be found in teaching of military values.”
“Then as now, it was the character-building aspects of Air Cadet training which appealed most strongly to the youth leaders of the country,” the commander added. “The instilling of Canadian military values is still one of the five key program principles of the Cadet movement, second only to inclusiveness, the program is designed to guide cadets to adopt the values of duty, loyalty, integrity, courage, stewardship and excellence as their own.”
“Today, the Air Cadets continue to evolve and adapt to meet the changing expectations of our changing Canadian society,” Lt. Meeking said of changes in the organization’s goals and objectives. “The first principle of the cadet program is inclusiveness. The program prohibits artificial barrier to participation based on gender, race, culture, religion, education, socioeconomic status or ability.”
Although formal details of the May celebration are not complete, Lt. Meeking said it will involve a march by the squadron into Blind River with greetings by town officials along with an inspection of the cadets. A scroll will be delivered to the squadron during the ceremony.
“The wording of the scroll normally presented to a unit at the time of granting of the privilege of marching through the city with ‘drums beating and colours flying’ is colourful and varied,” he said of the ceremony.
Council is likely to approve the request at its next regular meeting.