Hundreds of cadets returned to the Royal Military College of Canada last week for another academic year at the prestigious military institution.
For many cadets, especially first year cadets, the first few months at the RMCC are steeped in decades worth of tradition to welcome students back to school.
First-year cadets were ushered in a week prior to their older classmates for the beginning of First Year Orientation Program (FYOP).
“The primary goal of FYOP is to introduce the cadets to the Cadet Wing, to life in the military, to the structure that is going to be the next four years of their life and to integrate them into the wing,” said Jennifer Jordan, RMC Foundation, Fundraising Coordinator.
The main highlight of FYOP is the Memorial Arch Parade, which took place on Aug. 26. The Memorial Arch Parade is a ceremony to mark the entrance of cadets into the military college.
Besides introducing the cadets to the school and getting them into a fitness routine, first-year cadets are placed in squadrons with other first year cadets. Cadets will remain in these squadrons for the first few months of school.
Although FYOP is an introduction to the school, cadets are not officially part of the Cadet Wing until Reunion Weekend.
On the Friday of Reunion Weekend, which takes place this year from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1, the first year cadets will take part in a First Year Orientation Program Obstacle Course. Competing with their squadrons, cadets will need to complete 12 various challenging obstacles.
After completion of the course, cadets are presented with commemorative coins by former cadets and members of the Old Brigade, former cadets who entered the College at least 45 years ago.
The winning squadron is also honoured at the John Bart Leadership Award Dinner. Hosted by the school’s commandant and the Mrs. Bart, the private dinner celebrates the winning squadron and 12 representatives from each squadron. The commandant is also presented with a cheque of $10,000.
Besides holding a certain significance for first-year cadets, Reunion Weekend is a monumental event for the entire RMCC. It’s a chance for ex-cadets and new cadets to reconnect.
“Because of their careers, different postings and just family life, and life in general, they [ex-cadets] haven’t seen some of their classmates for upwards of 20, 25 years. They haven’t been to the college in 20, 25 years, sometimes longer than that.
“So, giving them the ability to come back to their alma matter, to the place where it all started for them, and reintroduce them to their classmates and give them different activities where they can bond with not only their classmates, but the current cadets that are coming in,” noted Jordan.
Other significant events of the weekend include the RMC Foundation Legacy Dinner on Thursday, Sept. 28.; the Badging Parade on Saturday, Sept. 30, to mark the end of six weeks of FYOP; and a rugby match between ex-cadets and current cadets.
Other notable events on Reunion Weekend include the Wall of Honour Ceremony that recognizes ex-cadets and others who have made notable contributions to the country. Past honourees include Col. Chris Hadfield, the late Lt.Gen. Guy Granville Simmonds, Companion of the Order of Canada; and the late Honorary Col. the Honourable Joseph Gilles Lamontagne.
The weekend’s events round off with a Memorial Arch Parade for ex-cadets.
However, it’s the decades of traditions and sharing stories that make the weekend a special occasion for not only ex and current cadets, but also for their families.
“We have a lot of families that have come through. So, you’ll see a father and a mother standing beside their son and daughter, and they’ve all come through the college. Or you’ll see a grandfather, a father and a son and you’ll see three generations here standing beside the place where they all went…it’s a really proud moment to see that,” said Jordan.