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Inspire: Proud Cadet Emma Mantler has put in nearly 400 hours of community service

‘You gain an inner peace and satisfaction from helping others’

At 17, Emma Mantler is a proud Royal Canadian Sea Cadet who has been dedicated to the civilian military since the age of nine, when she first joined the Navy League of Canada as a Junior Cadet.

The Cadet program inspired Emma’s path of personal development and introduced her to community service: both play an important role in her young life.

Born in St. Catharines and raised in Greater Sudbury, Emma and her brother, Nolan, live with their father, Stephen, who is employed in the IT Department at Cambrian College, and their stepmother, Celina, a corporate training co-ordinator at the college.

Sylvie, Emma’s mother, works at a school daycare centre; however, during the pandemic, she has remained home to care for and help school daughter, Payton, who is Emma’s half-sister. 

Emma first discovered Cadets eight years ago. 

“My mom had a friend whose daughter joined,” she said. “Molly and I are both around the same age, so we attended Junior Cadets together.”

Emma’s passion for the Cadet program has only grown over the years, and she is happy that Nolan and many of the friends she made in Junior Cadets have advanced alongside her. 

“Each stage of the Cadet program presents a new environment, so it’s nice to have the support of people who have transitioned through the ranks with you.” 

The year 2020 marks the 125th anniversary of the civilian Navy League of Canada. 

“By 12, you ‘age out’ of the Navy League and move up to the next stage by selecting which program you prefer to enroll in: Air, Army or Sea. I chose Sea Cadets because of my interest in all things nautical.” 

A free civilian program for youth aged 12 to 18, the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets Corps (RCSCC) is sponsored by the Canadian Armed Forces and the Navy League of Canada. The RCSCC celebrates its 77th anniversary this year.

Emma is a member of the 134 Royal Canadian Sea Cadet Corps (RCSCC) Admiral Mountbatten. In normal times, they meet once a week at the Sudbury Armory on Riverside Drive. 

“We start with parade night, raising the flags and performing the colour ceremony, which signifies the beginning of training night. At the end of our training evening, we perform the sunset ceremony by lowering the flag. We perform basic navy drills and have classes in basic knot-tying and learn to develop nautical skills. Survival training, fitness, leadership, and teamwork are all important components of the program.”

As a Sea Cadet, Emma is also dedicated to serving the community. 

“We conduct poppy tagging for the Legion and participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies.” 

She volunteers at fundraising dinners, bugles at special events, and takes part in activities such as bagging customers’ purchases at local grocery stores. 

“Our efforts help fund our civilian military training.”  

Cadets have an opportunity to attend summer training at the Sea Cadet Camp located in Kingston at HMCS Ontario

Summer training begins with a two-week general course where Cadets experience an introduction to seamanship and sailing skills, music, fitness, various drills and air rifle marksmanship. They can then apply to the next level of summer training camp, which consists of a three-week course specializing in the Cadet’s area of interest, with a focus on honing those particular skills.

“There are also opportunities to take part in a wide variety of competitions – everything from biathlon ski and shoot, to orienteering, marksmanship, as well as band and drill competitions. It’s fast-paced, exciting and challenging all at the same time.”

Emma has risen through the ranks into a leadership position within the Sea Cadets. As a longstanding member of Cadet programs, she has gained leadership skills and developed confidence and a sense of self that will undoubtedly benefit her in adulthood. 

“You may not realize it at the start, but Cadet training really does teach you a lot of different life skills.”

Throughout her years of service, Emma has achieved awards and accolades for demonstrating strong leadership and mastering core skills, as well as earning recognition for her dedication to service and commitment to community.

A particularly proud moment was receiving the Legion Medal of Excellence while Emma was still in her early teens. She also earned a Centennial Sea Cadet Coin in 2018, which marks the program’s 100th anniversary. Each core was given just one coin to present to an outstanding cadet.

More recently, Emma was bestowed with the Lord Strathcona Medal, the highest honour presented in the Canadian Sea Cadet program. It represents exceptional military knowledge and exemplary fitness. She is now working toward earning a service medal representing her fifth year of service to the program.

At age 19, Cadets ‘age out’ of the Sea Cadets program. At that time, they can decide to either join the military or carry the skills and abilities they have gained into their chosen field of study and eventual career path.

Emma’s own career goals lie in the field of law. 

“I’m really enjoying my high school law class and I hope eventually to become a Crown Attorney.”

Although her deepest passion is Cadets, Emma also enjoys the arts. 

“I love painting landscapes and creating abstracts from various raw materials. I saw an online demonstration of sewing on canvas and thought it was pretty cool, so I taught myself how to do it.”

Her creative talents also extend to music and theatre. Emma first learned how to play the trumpet in high school, and that led her to learn the soprano, which she performs in the Cadet bugle band. 

“It’s been very rewarding to continue my music and bugle at legion events and at special public occasions.”

Emma has enjoyed volunteering so much that, so far, she has put in almost ten times the 40 hours’ community service required to graduate high school. 

“Discovering my passion as young as I have, it’s very motivating to realize how far I can go in the organization.” With the mentorship she is receiving through Cadets, Emma is certain to achieve her goals in life and career.

Emma Mantler’s Words of Inspiration

The Cadet system is an exceptional program that shapes youth to become strong, confident leaders. You learn skills you might not ordinarily acquire, and you will develop self-confidence and inner strength you never knew you had.  Cadet summer camp is one of the best experiences for learning and challenging yourself physically and mentally. 

Volunteer opportunities enlighten you to the world around us and generate deep respect and compassion for others. As a Cadet, your eyes open to community and volunteering. You gain an inner peace and satisfaction from helping others. Involvement with the Cadet program really brought me out of my shell. It helped me find my voice and discover my life’s passion. I know that, without this program, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

Parents and their children can learn more about the Air, Army and Sea Cadets programs hereLearn more about the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets program and activities here.

Marlene Holkko Moore is a local communications professional and regular contributor to Learn more about’s Community Leaders Program here.