Teenager so disciplined she put off awards until after exams: Canada's top cadets

National Post June 20, 2005

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When Sergeant Lorielle Pevie learned this week she had won the medal given to the top cadet in each province and territory across Canada, she asked that her award ceremony be put off until after high school exams. The tenth grader did not want the accolades to distract her from studying.

Discipline, said Ms. Pevie, 16, is one of the hallmarks of a good cadet.

"I've definitely gained self-discipline and time-appreciation in cadets," said Ms. Pevie, who spoke from her home in Arnold's Cove, Newfoundland, as she prepared to write a French exam. "I try not to procrastinate anymore because, in cadets, you never know when you're going to have to do something so it's better to get it done. You'll cause yourself a lot less worry."

Cadets, the Canadian Armed Forces' after-school training program for youths aged 12 to 18, awarded its highest honour, the Major General Howard Award, to 11 young Canadians last week.

Sadly, the man for whom the award is named, Major-General W.A. Howard, who served as the Colonel Commandant of the Royal Canadian Army Cadets from 1974 to 1979, passed away on Wednesday after a long illness.

The federally funded cadet program places an emphasis on developing good citizenship, leadership skills, discipline and physical fitness. Cadets learn map, compass and survival skills, participate in drills and community outreach programs, as well as weekend and summer activities that include camping, canoeing, rock climbing and war games.

Sgt. Pevie joined the cadets in Grade 7 after seeing what her older sister, Leanna, did as a cadet.

"I'd see the field trips she'd go on, hear the things she'd talk about and the friends she'd made and that really interested me," said Sgt. Pevie, who added that cadets is not all about performing drills and marching. There is a positive social aspect. "It's helped me broaden my circle of friends," she said.

Because of her accomplishments in cadets, Sgt. Pevie will spend four weeks in Wales, U.K., this summer. She will visit the battlefield of Vimy Ridge, tour London and hike, kayak and go rock climbing.

"I've never been outside of Canada before," she said, "so I'm very excited."

Sergeant Charles Bernatchez of Edmonton, now 16, joined cadets four years ago because several of his friends said the organization was full of adventure. His father is also in the Canadian Armed Forces and served in cadets in his youth.

"At first I hesitated because I was extremely shy," Sgt. Bernatchez said. After four years as a cadet, his shyness has disappeared. "I've learned great self-confidence."

After seeing one of his cadet leaders win the award last year, Sgt. Bernatchez became determined to follow in his superior's footsteps. "I wanted to be like him. He's everything good -- an awesome cadet."

Captain Lloyd Meyer is the commanding officer of Sgt. Bernatchez's unit.

"Sgt. Bernatchez is a role-model cadet, right from his punctuality and dependability, his dress, his deportment to the way he interacts with superiors, peers and subordinates," Capt. Meyer said.

Capt. Meyer was not surprised to hear that Sgt. Bernatchez's downplayed his accomplishments. "He's very modest," Capt. Meyer said. "Cadets take pride in what they do. They're not looking for accolades."

Warrant Officer She-Yang Lau-Chapdelaine of Ottawa is responsible for 32 younger cadets in his corps. His commanding officer, Major Robert Barrette, describes him as always first to volunteer.

"Some older cadets get a little picky about some of the community services," Major Barette said. "But Mr. Lau-Chapdelaine is always there. He's never let us down."

His older brother, She-Ming Lau-Chapdelaine, won the Major General Howard Award two years ago. Warrant Officer Lau-Chapdelaine said he worked hard for the award himself.

"But, in a way, it was also something I hoped people wouldn't expect of me," he said, adding he wanted to be his own person in the cadets.

The number of cadets across Canada has remained relatively steady over the past three years, climbing from a total of 54,023 sea, army and air cadets in 2002, to 54,745 in 2004. Those numbers are still approximately 10,000 above the lowest levels seen in the 1980s and 1990s.

Maj. Barrette calls the organization Canada's "best-kept secret for teens."

"People think that because the cadets wear a uniform, that they're like junior recruits. But more than 80% of cadets never pursue any type of military career."

2005 AWARD RECIPIENTS

Adjudant Guylaine Archer, CC# 3027 -- Corps des Cadets des Iles Lameque-Miscou, Lameque, N.B.

Sergeant Charles Bernatchez, CC# 2551 -- Canadian Airborne Regiment Cadet Corps, Edmonton, Alta.

Sergeant Veronica Curran, CC# 117 -- Preston/Westphal Area Army Cadet Corps, North Preston, N.S.

Warrant Officer Bradley Gaucher, CC# 903 - British Columbia Dragoons (Kelowna) Cadet Corps, Kelowna, B.C.

Sergeant Andrew Greely, CC# 2701 -- Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Cadet Corps, Winnipeg, Man.

Caporal-chef Marie-Christine Lariviere, CC# 2787 -- Corps de Cadets de St-Zacharie, St-Zacharie, Que.

Warrant Officer She-Yang Lau-Chapdelaine, CC# 2784 -- Governor General's Foot Guards Cadet Corps, Ottawa

Warrant Officer Jessica MacDonald, CC# 202 -- Fort Malden Army Cadet Corps, Amherstburg, Ont.

Sergeant Lorielle Pevie, CC# 2978 -- Hibernia Army Cadet Corps, Arnold's Cove, Nfld.

Warrant Officer Timothy Ross, CC# 242 -- Fredericton Army Cadet Corps, Fredericton, N.B.

Warrant Officer Brittany St-Jules, CC# 2302 -- Weyburn Legion Cadet Corps, Weyburn, Sask.