Juno Beach, Dieppe, Dunkirk and Vimy Ridge are some of the stops that sea cadets in Prince Rupert, B.C. are hoping to tour in June 2012.
“Our corps has been asked to lay a wreath at Juno Beach. With that in mind, we’ve looked at how we can incorporate that with community service all in one,” said Officer Glen Boychuk of the Navy League of Canada Prince Rupert Branch Captain Cook Sea Cadets during a presentation to City Council last Monday evening.
During a compelling power point presentation, Boychuk outlined the tour’s itinerary
showing war memorials, cemeteries, and photographs, both historical and present day.
“When our cadets tour these sites, where soldiers, perhaps only a year or two older than them, lost their lives, it will have an impact on them. It will change their lives forever,” Boychuk said.
The eyes of the world will be watching, he added, when the cadets and officers from Prince Rupert lay a wreath at D-Day ceremonies. They will also visit every commonwealth gravesite and perform community service and pay their respects.
Presently there are 26 cadets and 3 officers in the corps, but only 11 cadets will embark with the three officers on the trip. At the end of this month, the officers will choose four cadets and the remaining seven will be announced between September and December.
Over a year ago the opportunity was presented to the cadets, and ever since, they’ve been working toward being selected. The criteria are attitude, aptitude, appearance, attendance and academic standing.
To help fundraise for the trip, the Navy League is hoping to secure 10 community partners and so far has approached Rotary, the Credit Union, Legions in Terrace and Prince Rupert, and corporations.
“We are asking the City of Prince Rupert to become a partner in this honourable endeavour,” Boychuk told council.
That partnership, he explained, would include a one-time only request of $3,500 through the City’s community enhancement grant program, in addition to the $2,200 the Navy League normally receives annually.
While council did not make any decisions Monday evening, there were a few questions and comments from members of council.
Councillor Sheila Gordon-Payne asked how many other communities would be sending cadets.
“To the best of my knowledge, we are the only cadet corps doing this,” Boychuk said.
“The Government of Canada and the Department of National Defence will lay wreaths. We have entered into a series of conversations and asked to be part and they’ve said yes.”
Councillor Kathy Bedard said her granddaughter went on a similar tour with a school trip and before departing had no idea of the emotional impact she would encounter.
“She sent me a note on facebook asking me to send her our family tree because she wanted to see if there were any Bedards buried there. It does have all the impact that you are saying sir. I’m glad you’re taking this on,” Bedard commented.