Royal Canadian Dragoons Cadet shares her candid story

Cadet Master Corporal Azia Seitcher-Hamel
Cadet Master Corporal Azia Seitcher-Hamel, 2870 Royal Canadian Dragoons. Photo: The Guard

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By Azia Seitcher-Hamel, Cadet Master-Corporal, 2870 Royal Canadian Dragoons – The Guard

My name is Cadet Master-Corporal Azia Seitcher-Hamel and I am 14 years old. My father is Abenaki First Nation and my mother is Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. I also have one brother and two sisters but I am the oldest sibling. I am a proud member of the 2870 Royal Canadian Dragoons Cadet Corps.

Traditional teachings concerning the respect of nature are key components of our ancestral morals and values. These sacred teachings inhabit my heart, and they are now complemented by the opportunities offered by the cadet wilderness survival training.

In addition to our traditional knowledge, wearing a cadet uniform gave me confidence, and provided opportunities to be heard as a young Indigenous woman. I proudly wear my traditional braids while in uniform as a reminder that all our ancestors are watching and guiding my life path. As an Indigenous youth, I am the living result of our collective history, and joining the Army Cadets has helped me by providing opportunities and perspectives to better myself on many levels.

As teenagers, we know that social expectations are high, especially being a traditional Indigenous youth, sometimes feeling different from the crowd. Yet, going to meet and talk with everyone when I go to Cadets, I know I’m welcomed. The awkwardness disappears in what becomes a family that is open to listen to each other, share experiences together, and build on our talents to pursue our goals as cadets.

Canada is multicultural. Growing up, I wanted to go into politics, and always believed it is important to understand different cultures to acknowledge other ways of seeing and thinking. Among cadets, there is also multiculturalism; living in tents together and sharing stories with the group truly deepens the awareness we have of each other, and of what defines everyone’s individual cultures.

While participating in cadet activities such as fundraisers, competitions, field training exercises, sports, and training camps, you can always expect to leave with pride and better prepared for your next adventures.

As Indigenous youth, we must show the world what we are made of in order to abolish stereotypes. It feels great to tell my relatives that I am part of something that not only helps me improve myself but also helps others. The Cadets empower you to become the best version of yourself, and to feel strong and proud about who you truly are.

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