On February 20, 2020, six members of the 858 Skookumchuk Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Cadets set fear aside and took the stage at St. Hilda’s Anglican Church in Sechelt, presenting both prepared and impromptu speeches in front of family, friends, fellow cadets, and judges from the community. 

It was the culmination of more than two months of preparation on the part of the participating cadets and effective speaking program coordinator OCdt Trish Scott.

“The courage it takes to stand up in front of a crowd and have the speech you worked so hard on judged on very specific criteria – and timed, with demerits for being too short or too long – is a huge undertaking. And then to have to prepare and present an impromptu speech on a topic that is only revealed 3 minutes beforehand? To say we are thrilled we had six cadets who took up the challenge is an understatement,” Scott said.

The Royal Canadian Air Cadet program focuses on building life-long skills for youth: leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, self-confidence, and good citizenship. Cadets who participate in the effective speaking program learn all of these – skills that will help them immeasurably in other areas of their life now and in future, from making class presentations, job interviews, and interviewing for admission to post-secondary education, to presenting to colleagues at work, leading volunteer organizations, or even running for public office. The development of strong communication skills in individual members is the primary objective, and confident, responsible, self-expression is the goal.

Overall, effective speaking is an experience in individual development. The speaker’s own growth, measured against his or her own previous experience and accomplishments, is the most important feature of the competition.

The Air Cadet Effective Speaking competition is held annually, and takes place at the Local, Regional, Provincial and National levels. The winner of each level then moves on to next level.

At the completion of the formal judging process, the results were:

  • 1st Place: Matthew Douglas, speaking on The Importance of Volunteering in Your Community
  • 2nd Place: Sam Rooney, sharing his thoughts on The Positive/Negative Effects of AI
  • 3rd Place: Jonah Byron, presenting the Cree Code Talkers of WWII

Two cadets (highest placement and the next highest placement as an alternate) will travel to Delta on March 7, 2020 to compete at the next level – the Metro Vancouver Wing Competition.

The 858 Skookumchuk Squadron Sponsoring Committee, who sponsored the event, would like to thank all of the friends and family of the competing cadets, as well as fellow cadets, who came out to support the participants.

And the thank yous would not be complete without extending a HUGE expression of gratitude to the volunteer judges: Mayor Darnelda Siegers (District of Sechelt), Beverly Hudson (a long time 858 supporter and prior effective speaking judge), and Nicole LaChance (Gourmet Girl Cafe & Catering), as well as the official teller, Jillian Dueck, and MC Capt David Douglas (a passionate champion for the effective speaking program) for volunteering their valuable time.

858 Skookumchuk Squadron effective speaking competition judges 2020.