Cadets gain education and sense of respect

Moera Hunter wears the uniform of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets to help her understand the significance of Nov. 11.

“It brings honour,” she said.

Moera, 12, joined the Air Cadets two months ago. During the lead-up to Remembrance Day, she’s been selling poppies for the first time on Pape Avenue in East York even in freezing temperatures and chilling winds.

“I think everyday people … every race, culture, generation, religion, all of them should remember … (those) who have given them all that they have today – the freedom, the ability to walk onto the street,” she said.

Moera said her family has served in the Canadian Forces from the First World War to the mission in Afghanistan. Though she doesn’t plan to become a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, she credits her family connection to the military for her joining Cadets.

“They inspired me to join Cadets,” she said. “It’s mostly for my ancestors who’ve fought in wars and who have experienced things nobody should ever have experienced.”

The organization is divided into Sea, Army and Air Cadets. It’s a federally sponsored program for youth aged 12 to 18, helping them develop leadership skills, improve their physical fitness and become better citizens.

While he too is honouring Canada’s military traditions by selling poppies in East York, Ryan Petrie wants something more from the Cadet program.

“One of my goals has always been to be a pilot,” he said. “And being in Cadets helps me with that.”

Joining Cadets has enabled him to prepare for the educational and medical requirements to attend ground school and train to become a pilot. At 16, Ryan has achieved the rank of sergeant. He’s been in cadets for four years and learning the essence of serving his country.

“Cadets have really shown me what community can do for me and now it’s time to show what I can do for the community,” he said. “I’ve had a lot provided for me, so any way I can give back, I like to.”