Awesome Cadet: Amelia Monteith

“If I had not been in the program, I wouldn’t have the experiences I have today.”

We have all been told what success looks like. So, what does it look like to you? For us at the Navy League of Canada, we have so many definitions of success. One of them is Amelia Monteith, the 2021 National Sea Cadet of the Year.

Just as the meaning of her name, Amelia is about demonstrating ‘productivity’ and ‘striving’ in everything she does. From organizing a virtual camping weekend where life skills challenges were taught; to setting up a virtual running club with Cadets completing a couch? to a 5km challenge.

In this edition of the Awesome Cadet, we proudly introduce you to Amelia Monteith. Enjoy!

Tell us the story of how you joined the Canadian Cadet Organization. What motivated you to initially join and what has kept you engaged and involved in the program? What advice would you give to encourage others to join and/or continue in the Sea Cadet program? What have been the highlights of your cadet career?

I first joined the program back in 2016, however, my family has been very heavily involved as I was growing up, so I have been surrounded by everything to do with cadets since I was just a kid. My mother was a cadet for RCSCC Illustrious when she was my age, and her love for the program was passed on to me. I believe initially it was my Mom who motivated me to join; however, there are so many aspects and opportunities available that kept me wanting to stay. The people involved, the different teams, summer training, the trips, and the general atmosphere are all examples of aspects that deepened my love for the program. My advice to encourage those who need it is “what you put into the program is what you will get out of it”. If you put in a lot of effort and take advantage of the opportunities given, your rewards will be that much greater and you will therefore have the most enjoyable experience. If I hadn’t joined the teams and gone out to the optional events, I wouldn’t have met the people I have today and experienced the adventures I have under my belt. I don’t think any regular 17 year old can say that they have been able to accomplish the things that I or any of my peers have done. I believe that the highlights of my career were my ability to go through the sail program at HMCS Ontario, training and competing with our biathlon team, the tall ship deployment in BC, culminating in winning the prestigious award of National Sea Cadet of the Year.

One of the goals of the Sea Cadet program is to develop future leaders and active citizens with a genuine interest in their community and country. What experiences within the cadet program have helped you develop your leadership and citizenship and what skills do you currently find to be the most useful for you in your community and Corps? How do you think that participation in the cadet program has set you up for success as you are faced with challenges in the future?

As I have developed throughout the program, citizenship and being an active member of my community have been very heavily focused on. I also believe it is of utmost importance to give back to the place where I have grown up and develop a brighter future for the members of my community. The program has introduced me to the Duke of Edinburgh Award and I believe it has been essential in my development as an active citizen. I have worked with the Royal Canadian Legions, the city of Brampton, local charities such as the Santas for Seniors, and the Every Name Counts initiative. Through the award, as well as the countless opportunities the program has offered to me, I have found a deep fondness for volunteering, and the feeling I get from helping others is unmatched. Leadership is also something that is of utmost importance, and being able to practice my skills as a team captain or teaching lessons to my peers, will set me up for success in the future. I have never been the most confident with my public speaking; however, skills taught in communication and instructional techniques have been two of the most beneficial for my success both within our cadet unit and in my personal life. Without having leadership opportunities to put my skills into practice, I would not be able to utilize these skills in the future. It is one thing to learn and have the knowledge, but it is another thing to put that knowledge into practice. Being able to exercise these skills and have someone there to mentor me throughout the process has been so helpful. If I had not been in the program, I wouldn’t have the experiences I have today.

How did you feel about being recognized as the 2021 National Sea Cadet of the Year, and what advice would you give to encourage others to get the most out of their experience as cadets and strive to be leaders in their Corps communities?

Being recognized as the 2021 National Sea Cadet of the Year was so incredibly shocking, it took me a while to actually process the fact that I had achieved such a feat. It made the work and effort that I had put into the program feel that much more rewarding. Of course, the adventures and experiences were satisfying in themselves, but I believe that the recognition and feelings of accomplishment have made all of the struggles and efforts even more worth it. I am still so incredibly grateful to all of those who helped me throughout the journey, my peers, my officers, and my local Navy League Branch members, because, without them, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to this point. A piece of advice I would give to future leaders is to think about those who influenced you when you first joined and strive to be that person for the new generation. The incredible mentors and leaders I had when I first joined were the people who truly made my cadet experience the best. I look up to their influence each day and I think about those younger cadets and how I could be that person for them. In doing so, I can develop myself as a leader and continue to make the most out of my experience.

If you were to address the national partners in the Leagues and DND/CAF, what advice and recommendations would you provide on how to make the Cadet Programs more attractive to young people and how to rebuild the program after the restrictions of the past two years?

If I were to address the national partners in the Leagues and DND/CAF I would like to emphasize how important the hands-on learning aspect is to many of our cadets. Without having the capability to join the various teams, the seamanship weekends, the camping opportunities, and of course summer training, I don’t believe I would have enjoyed the program as much as I have. I think as well it is important to see the challenge of the pandemic as a benefit and not as a hindrance. It feels like we are now starting with a blank slate, which we need to use to our advantage, to create a revitalized program and rebuild it focusing on the popular components from the past, mixed with new ideas from those who have been able to experience both worlds. I believe that the Cadet Advisory Council is an extremely important tool to ensure that the views of the cadets are tabled and taken into consideration. Open communication and collaboration are key to the program’s success.

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