A group of 10 Naujaat cadets took a significant step up the achievement ladder by completing their silver star expedition training at Turtle Mountain Territorial Park just outside of Winnipeg earlier this month.
Jean Siusangnark was also able to make the trip in the capacity of a staff cadet.
Capt. Lloyd Francis said cadets do their silver star training at the end of their third year in the program, before moving onto gold star training at the end of their fourth year.
Cadets in their fifth or sixth year of the program can apply to regional, national or international expeditions.
“If you do one of those three now, you qualify to be a staff cadet on the expeditions,” said Francis. “They changed it to, kind of, put in more leadership roles for the older cadets and keep them interested in the program.
Along with Siusangnark – who completed a regional expedition – Warrant Officer Jack Kopak also completed a regional competition and Chief Warrant Officer Terance Mapsalak did an international expedition.
“So all three of them are qualified to be staff cadets on our expeditions now,” said Francis.
Travelling away from Naujaat often means different things to different cadets.
A trip to Winnipeg can be old hat for some cadets, while it’s a first time experience for others.
Master Cpl. Melanie Kaunak, 15, said she enjoyed hiking and learning new skills during the silver star expedition.
It was a lot of fun, she said, but it was also quite challenging.
“The hiking was kind of tough,” said Kaunak.
“Finishing the silver star training has me really looking forward to when I take my gold star training,” she said. “It will probably be a lot different from this, but I’m still looking forward to it.”
Master Cpl. Darryl Angotingoar, 14, said he was really into the canoeing on the trip.
He had learned to canoe about three years ago, and it was fun getting the chance to do it again, he said.
“I remembered a bit of what I learned the first time and I like being out on the water,” said Angotingoar. “The hiking was fun – we went about 10 kilometres – but it was challenging. There were some hills on the trail, so there was a lot of climbing while we hiked.”
For Master Cpl. Bridgette Malliki, 15, one of the coolest things about her trip to Turtle Mountain was celebrating her birthday on the expedition.
She said it’s a Naujaat tradition to throw water on people on their birthday, and being away on silver star training didn’t give her a break from the custom.
“Fooling around and having my birthday there was cool, but just the travelling itself was cool to me,” said Malliki. “This was my first time at Turtle Mountain and it was nice, but it was also hot. It was plus 20 C while we were there and that took a bit to get used to.”
Lance Cpl. Jeannie Katokra, 16, enjoyed the canoeing the Naujaat cadets got to do at Turtle Mountain.
She said this was her first time to ever canoe and she really enjoyed the experience.
“This was my first time down south, so it was a little different for me,” said Katokra. “We played ball tag on the water when we were canoeing – you had to throw the ball into the other person’s canoe – and I liked that the most. I didn’t really meet many cadets from the other corps because I just liked hanging out with my own group.”
For Cpl. Heather Inaksajak, 15, the trip to Turtle Mountain represented two firsts.
She said it was her first trip out as a cadet, and it was also her first trip down south.
“I really liked the hiking, even though it was kind of tough,” said Inaksajak. “I like doing physical activities, so the hiking was pretty good for me. The place had nice scenery and all that stuff, but I also found it kind of hot. I liked being in the city more than out at the park.”
Master Cpl. Victor Kridluar, 15, said he enjoyed the expedition and being at the park the most, but he liked at least one thing about the time they spent in Winnipeg.
“We went out to eat at Boston Pizza and that was good,” said Kridluar.