The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference Visits RMCC
By: NCdt Sarah Kiervin 27123
The Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference is an initiative which seeks to explore and enhance the practice of leadership in Canada. Members of the conference are chosen from across the country based on their potential to become senior leaders in their respective fields. They participate in an intense two weeks of tours and presentations in a particular region of Canada. The institutions which they tour run the gamut from prisons to universities, such as the Royal Military College, with each offering a unique learning experience. The 17 privileged cadets who welcomed the conference members were afforded the opportunity, not only to show off their home and place of work, but to learn from the event themselves.
The day began on Sunday, May 31st with breakfast at the Senior Staff Mess where Commander Mike Mooz greeted the guests with an introduction to RMCC’s history as well as the innovation in leadership which is fostered here. Each of the seventeen cadets was paired with a conference member for breakfast, allowing cadets to share their personal experiences at RMC and affording them the opportunity to learn from their guest. This hour long session was nothing short of inspiring for many of the cadets.
After breakfast, the group was exposed to some drill movements. The lesson was led by PO1 Strickland and OCdt Duncan Matthewson 26961. A couple of the guests were already familiar with drill, having come from backgrounds in the reserves or the RCMP, however, most were new to the idea and everybody wore a smile as the conference members struggled to match each others pace. As the crash course came to a close they had just managed to find their step. Feeling accomplished, and with pictures and videos of the effort on their phones, the conference members moved on to tour the campus.
The tour was focussed specifically on the SLOWPOKE reactor, the heart of RMCC’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering department. In addition, Dr. Kela Weber, a specialist in the field of environmental stewardship, delivered a presentation to the conference members about the Environmental Science Group and the work they’ve done throughout Canada. The Aboriginal participants were especially interested to hear how Dr. Weber’s work has been affecting the Canadian North and many First Nations communities. As a unique and coveted aspect of the College’s research and teaching capabilities, the SLOWPOKE reactor and its team were an important part of this tour.
Next, Capt Joel Weatherby introduced the group to the FYOP obstacle course. Videos detailing the physical feat which all cadets entering the college must conquer were met with applause from the audience. The obstacle course is a challenge of leadership at all levels, ranging from the first year IC, 2IC, and even 3IC of each flight, to their cadet section commanders and flight leaders, to the cadets who help to organize each individual obstacle, and finally the cadets and training wing members who organize them. Hopefully the impression left by this presentation was representative of the impression the obstacle course leaves on each cadet at the College.
The group was then shown the memorial staircase and surrounding artifacts in Currie Hall, by Ross Mackenzie, the College historian and museum curator. He briefly expressed the meaning it imports to those at the College, even as they may see it every day.
The morning ended with a discussion on leadership and innovation at RMCC, beginning with a synopsis of RMCC’s organization by Dr. Phil Bates, Vice Principle Academics. Dr. Bates began with an explanation of the three wings at the College (Academic, Military, and Cadet) and how they work together to produce cadets who receive both a degree and a commission at the end of their four years here. The four pillars system was then expanded on from its introduction by Commander Mooz earlier. The application and support of the fitness, military, bilingualism, and academic aspects of life at the College segued into an introduction of the new leadership level progression model. After this brief explanation of the mechanics of the College, a discussion between the conference members and cadets began, including OCdt Em Prosper 27148, OCdt Gabrielle Archambault 26459 (the incoming CWC), and OCdt Luc Bilodeau 26754. The discussion was moderated by LCol Soo Sutherland and Capt Brendan Kilburn, and it answered questions on many aspects of college life, ranging from the recruiting process to the female experience in a male dominated field such as the army, which both OCdt Archambault and OCdt Prosper are part of. Other discussion topics covered the means by which cadets receive moral and emotional support, and the application of discipline should the cadets misbehave.
Overall, the cadets were described to have shone. Dr. Bates considers the cadets to be the College’s “bestselling feature”. It was a pleasure for the seventeen cadet participants to have been a part of this unique experience and to get a chance to exact a positive impact on the public’s understanding of the College.