Of the many tendrils of the Canadian Armed Forces, one of the least-examined is the Royal Canadian Army Cadets, or “Cadets”. Cadets is a military-sponsored program that immediately devolves into creepiness on its about pages. Read this quote below and tell me this isn’t scary shit:
Army Cadets get involved in ceremonial military events and citizenship activities that allow them to connect to their Canadian heritage. They develop a great sense of pride and discipline through their involvement in a hierarchical system…
After reading promises of glacier climbs and parachuting hoo-rah Canadiana in childrens’ ears on the public dime, it’s no surprise that I went digging a bit deeper. And the truth regarding the Cadets is a shade different from visions of summer camp and unmatched glee. As in, the Canadian Cadet program is bloated, ridiculously jingoistic, and is under fire for sexual harrassment. Remember that this is a group designed for children here. And just think – if your lucky child can dodge Lt. Col. Stalker one day they too can look forward to reciting lines about veterans while parading in the cold to amuse cakers.
While we’re at it, we should add some asterisks to the parts where the program promises events and training. Some of the program’s requirements, like the requirement to stop cold-weather training after the temperature goes below -30C, aren’t even possible in the North. If you don’t have money to go to mandatory training sessions you can expect to have your ass penalized. The ass penalties presumably arise if you actually go to training; seriously, this looks like a pervasive problem here. Anyways, the weird combination of form-fit rules that don’t make sense and a system that claims equality while actually penalizing the poor? Hell, sounds like Canada to me!
If you happen to not live in an area “serviced” by the Cadets your little Timmy can instead join the Junior Canadian Rangers, who are also bloated and shitty but are quite frankly probably the only thing to do that isn’t drugs. Get ready to experience a lack of coherent policy-making and fundamentally unequal access to the full scope of the program, Timmy! Who needs performance metrics anyways, right? Just make shit up as you go along!
But the weirdest and nastiest part of the Cadets is how they indoctrinate children with Canadiana. I don’t know how else to say that it’s fucking creepy as shit that it advertises this as a good thing:
The Cadet Program is also about national unity. Youth from across Canada have an equal opportunity to participate in the Cadet Program and to develop their sense of Canadian identity. Cadets are highly visible ambassadors of Canada. Because the Government of Canada has invested in them while they are still young, Cadets are taught the skills and knowledge required to become knowledgeable and capable representatives of their country.
So, the goal of your program is to train children to be “knowledgeable” and note that the young age at which Cadets starts is a positive to that end. One of the stated goals of the program is to turn your Timmy into part of Brand Canada! Oh, sure – there’s discipline and knots and Boy Scout shit and whatever, but what the fuck guys?! The promises of fun and adventure are locked behind a strategic objective from the government to affirm and implant an approved Canadian script into the minds of children. Yeah, pretty sure Cadets doesn’t talk about the RCMP trying to kill off the Qimmiq or the atrocities in Somalia or the chronic disparity between access and quality to and of public infrastructure.
I don’t know what’s scarier about the Cadets, the constant stream of sexual assaults or the fact that jingoistic revisionism is the cost of entry for a program whose promises aren’t even regularly fulfilled for much of the membership. Ï mean, the very first requirement for most of the stars (think Scout badges) is a “Canadian” contextualization of the issue at hand! Doesn’t get much more Canadian than that – indoctrination in hopes of making connections and kissing ass begets a lifetime of apologizing for a country that routinely fails to serve the basic needs of the population.