Cadet Lieut. Dorothy Tootoo has another special memory of her years in the North to cherish after being presented with a defence commendation for her work with the 3019 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps (RCACC) in Rankin Inlet by Joint Task Force North Commanding Officer Brig. Gen. Patrick Carpentier in Iqaluit on Oct. 18.
Tootoo will officially end her position with student support at the Kivalliq campus of Nunavut Arctic College (NAC) this coming January, although her last day in the office will be Nov. 2.
She and her husband, Luc Paquet, are moving to Lac du Bonnet, Man., after 14 years in Rankin.
Tootoo said she's really going to miss the cadets in Rankin after she moves.
She said she's also going to miss her job at NAC a great deal.
"I've enjoyed every different aspect of my time at the college from my colleagues, to the new people who come in and the camaraderie you find everywhere here," said Tootoo.
"My whole time here has revolved around that type of lifestyle."
Tootoo, who was corps commander from late 2006 until November of 2017, said she can't say enough positive things about the years she spent with the cadets of the 3019 RCACC.
An incredible honour
She said it was incredible to receive the defence commendation at the end of her tenure with the 3019, an experience she described as quite humbling.
"In my eyes, the Defence Commendation is an award that goes to soldiers.
"Why did they pick me when there's so many other deserving people out there?
"I just found it really, really humbling and I don't have the words to describe how I felt because it was so far beyond anything I could have ever expected."
Tootoo said she is proud to have received the commendation.
She said for all the work she put into the cadet program, its success during her time with the corps comes down to all the people who helped her along the way.
"I do know, myself, how many hours I put in and the things I've done with the cadets and other officers who came in and out of Rankin – and not just from the cadet program, but from the Rangers and various military personnel who came to conduct exercises – we were always here and available to help them with whatever we could," said Tootoo. "I received this award because of the people around me. And I've become a better person by doing the things I did with the cadets and at my job with the college."
"They expanded my horizons and made me think in so many different directions," she said. "You have to be open, willing to accept things and look at people from all walks of life coming in with their own hopes and dreams, whether it's a child coming into cadets as a 12-year-old or an adult coming to NAC for secondary-educational opportunities."
Tootoo said she leaves the 3019 RCACC with concerns about its future.
She said that's mainly because the corps can't find anyone to assume the bus duties it depends so heavily upon.
"Sakku allows us to use its bus but we have to provide our own driver and we've been having difficulty finding someone who can take on that responsibility," said Tootoo.
"We were fortunate to have Joe Makkigak drive the bus for many years and I'm not sure we can find anyone else in the community able and willing to do it."
"The lack of a bus driver could seriously hurt the corps because the FOL site, where we meet, is so far out of town," she said.
"If we can find a bus driver and enough people sign up again, the corps can keep going because we have enough senior cadets capable of carrying the corps, such as Warrant Officer Clifford Tatty and Master Cpl. Sakkattaaq Zawadski."