By MWO Normand Marion, 16 Wing
On Wednesday, 22 February, candidates of the Primary Leadership Qualification Course 1105 had their graduation ceremony at CFB Borden. The 91 candidates had spent the previous eight weeks at the Air Command Academy (ACA), 16 Wing Borden, where they received professional military education and training in leadership, effective communication, general military knowledge, force protection operations and other related topics.
During a brief speech, the Reviewing Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Colin Keiver, Commanding Officer of 436 Transport Squadron, congratulated the students and reminded them that in coming on this course, they had taken a significant step in their military career. "You have chosen not just to accept a promotion, but to offer yourself as a leader, to take responsibility for ... your team, their work and the collective mission." He also emphasized the fact that leadership is about action, not just a position. "Leadership is not about sitting in a cubicle and typing an email," he said. "It's about getting involved. It has always been, and will always be about the people."
One of the highlights of the ceremony was the presentation of a cheque of $1310.00 to the Gilbert Trust Fund, which benefits the family of Sergeant Janick Gilbert who lost his life last year during a rescue operation in Nunavut. The cheque was presented to representatives of 424 Search & Rescue Squadron by MCpl Kevin Wallace, himself a Search & Rescue Tech and graduating student, who made the presentation on behalf of his fellow graduates.
Spectators and participants at the ceremony were treated to a special rendition of the National Anthem by another graduating student, Leading Seaman Josée Sulyma, a Resource Management Support Clerk from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria, B.C. While this was probably not the first time the anthem was sung in that building by a talented soloist, it was likely the first time it was performed by someone of this calibre. Indeed, LS Sulyma studied music and classical singing over many years in her native Quebec, and completed her studies in Paris, France, where she trained as opera singer. Since joining the CF, she has sung the National Anthem at high profile events including Toronto Blue Jays and Vancouver Canucks games, and at the Vanier Cup game in Vancouver last year. Her wonderful delivery of O Canada made this graduation ceremony an even more memorable event.
During the ceremony LCol Keiver presented awards to four individuals who were singled out by their peers for their exceptional personal commitment to the support and assistance of their fellow students. The K.M. Gravell Award was presented to Master Corporal Stéphane Lacasse, an Aviation Systems Technician from the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering - right here in Borden; MCpl Christopher Steward, a Traffic Tech from 413 Transport & Rescue Squadron in Greenwood, N.S.; MCpl Jason Bélanger, Aerospace Telecommunication Information Systems Technician stationed at Geilenkirchen, Germany; and to Corporal Kathryn Poudrier, an Imagery Tech from the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment in Cold Lake, Alberta.
The Gravell Award is named after Leading Aircraftsman (LAC) Karl M. Gravell who died as a result of a flight training accident in November 1941. With disregard to his own serious injury, LAC Gravell endeavoured to rescue his pilot from the burning wreckage of their aircraft. For his gallantry, he was posthumously awarded the very first George Cross in the Royal Canadian Air Force.