Nunatsiaq Online
FEATURES: Nunavut May 22, 2012 - 6:46 am

Lessons about life, lessons about pride

“Be very, very proud of what you’ve done this week”

SAMANTHA DAWSON
Not for real: an emergency responder fits a neck brace on a collision victim in Iqaluit. It's all part of the action as RCMP youth academy cadets participate in a car crash simulation, part of their week-long introduction to policing. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Not for real: an emergency responder fits a neck brace on a collision victim in Iqaluit. It's all part of the action as RCMP youth academy cadets participate in a car crash simulation, part of their week-long introduction to policing. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
RCMP Supt. Steve McVarnock stands with a group of cadets from the youth academy program at their May 18 graduation ceremony in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
RCMP Supt. Steve McVarnock stands with a group of cadets from the youth academy program at their May 18 graduation ceremony in Iqaluit. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)

With a little ketchup and some surprisingly good acting, the RCMP’s youth cadets pull off a successful motor vehicle crash simulation in Iqaluit.

In the fake head-on collision, one cadet plays dead while another four sit in their car, pretending to be injured, as the others ask them questions to keep them awake.

An empty beer bottle lies on the ground beside a tire.

Soon members of the fire department arrive and they bring out the jaws of life, a device similar to a giant can-opener, to pry the car open.

That’s how high school students from around Nunavut, aged 16 to 21, learn how to respond to that emergency situation, with police and firefighters directing and explaining the action.

But this wasn’t the only simulation the cadets in the RCMP Youth Academy experienced between May 14 and May 18.

Days were full of activities such as drill practices, physical workouts, officer safety and firearm safety training, suicide prevention awareness discussions and self-defense exercises.

But even so, by the end of the week, many of the 25 cadets still said they were glad they endured the 5:30 a.m. starts.

“It was the best,” cadet Tylie Arnatsiaq said, who won the “Most Improved” award at their graduation ceremony on May 18. 

“I’m very proud of this award,” he said, adding that he is taking a lot away from the youth academy program, a joint venture between the Canadian Forces Joint Task Force, Nunavut’s education department and the RCMP.

This year marks the “V” division’s third installment of the youth academy, with more and more interest generated among students to participate.

Officers from the South, as well as officers from the North work together to train the cadets and expose them to what Supt. Steve McVarnock calls “police culture “

After the intensive training, a trip out on the land, and more than a few suggestions for haircuts, the cadets attended their graduation ceremony on May 18 where they showed what they’ve learned to the audience. 

First up?

Making a bed, hospital corners included, using a coat hanger to achieve the perfect angle.

Cadets brought a bed out onto the Inuksuk gym floor, ran away, and left one cadet behind. He jumped into bed, messing it up almost instantly before his sergeant showed up, telling him to make the bed and get a haircut while he’s at it. Shaking the hair out of his face the cadet said yes and his friends scurried back to help him make the bed.

Dressed in matching blue and yellow track suits and caps, the cadets then got into formation to show off their physical fitness with everything from jumping jacks, to high-kicks and knuckle-hops.

McVarnock also took to the podium to say a few words to the cadets, saying their chosen valedictorian, Beth Idlout-Kheraj, had said it best: the cadets should be proud of themselves.

“I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that we have both learned very much from each and every one of you, you’ve allowed us to get inside your culture and learn a little bit more about you,” he said.

The program is also intended to teach police and students about traditional knowledge. “Be very, very proud of what you’ve done this week, you are definitely fine ambassadors for your home communities,” McVarnock said.

Even though it was a tough week, the cadets overcame it together, Beth Idlout-Kheraj said during her valedictory speech.

“We have to start somewhere and this is it — this program opened a new door for all of us, a new door to a career option, a new friend, earning success and much more,” she said.

The group learned what it takes to become a member, physically and mentally, Idlout-Kheraj said.

“Normally you have to make it on top of a hill to show you were there and you did it,” she said, comparing that experience to making an inuksuk.

“I’d like to thank each and every cadet of troop for taking one step forward for our future,” Idlout-Kheraj said, to applause from her peers.

McVarnock then presented the grads with a certificate, calling their names one at time, each one answered with a strict and steady “Sir!” 

The cadets then took time to say good-bye to the officers who would be travelling out of Iqaluit.

The influence of the youth won’t stop there: a youth advisory committee is being created.Two students from each of the three regions of Nunavut will be selected to learn more at the RCMP headquarters and to help police respond better to the needs of the territory, said McVarnock. 

RCMP Cst. Angélique Dignard said she witnessed big changes in the cadets throughout the week. “It’s amazing because when they first arrive they don’t really know what to expect, they’re unsure, they’re not as confident, and at the end of the week the bond that they have amongst each other, the confidence that they display [there is] the hope that they can accomplish something in the future whatever it is,” she said. 

Candice Sudlovenick agrees. She won the award for “RCMP Core Values,” with her position as right marker, which means she led the troops during marching drills.

One of her highlights was the self-defense portion of training.

“I feel accomplished with everything we did. The days seemed really long but today seems too fast,” she said.

“It actually got me interested into being an RCMP officer,” Sudlovenick said, who was chosen for the award by the other cadets.

“It feels really rewarding knowing that all my peers chose me,” she said. “I’m responsible to make sure everyone’s here and on time and they’re ready to go.”

There is more to being an RCMP officer than just arresting people, Sudlovenick said. “It’s so much more than just that.”

Cadets pose in their blue and yellow uniforms during their week-long introduction to policing from May 14 to May 18. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
Cadets pose in their blue and yellow uniforms during their week-long introduction to policing from May 14 to May 18. (PHOTO BY SAMANTHA DAWSON)
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