Awesome Cadet: From a Novice to the Top Music Sea Cadet in Canada

January 26th 2023
From a Novice to the Top Music Sea Cadet  in Canada - Kathleen Rowan

Since the advent of the Navy League of Canada's National President's Awards, each era has brought unique talent whose dedication and commitment to the program offers a refreshing sound as well as a reminder of the abundance of talent that abounds in this country.   

Like the other years, 2022 brought a new set of talent to the block and one of the exceptional talents is Kathleen Rowan, the Music Sea Cadet of the Year. CPO 1 Rowan enlisted as a Navy League cadet in 2013 at 210 NLCC Sackville before becoming a Sea cadet at 305 RCSCC Sackville in 2015. Going from barely knowing how to play the clarinet, to being the top sea cadet musician in the country remains impressive. She has gone from being a key member of the 305 band to becoming the lead clarinetist, conductor and music instructor. Her contributions have greatly helped the 305 band at several competitions where it has been judged as the best cadet band in the province. 

In this interview, Kathleen has a tip for current and potential cadets. 

Tell us the story of how you joined the Cadet Organization. What motivated you to initially join and what has kept you engaged and involved in the program?  

My motivation for joining the Cadet program was heavily influenced by my family. My sisters were both cadets, and my dad was an Officer at our local unit. I loved watching my sisters during parade nights, and knew I wanted to be a part of that too. I started as a Navy League cadet in 2013, at 210 NLCC Sackville, before moving on to be a Sea Cadet with 305 RCSCC Sackville in 2015. Initially, no one quite knew if I was going to stick with the program, but the amazing staff at the Corps created a very welcoming environment, and it was the first youth program I was able to say I belonged in. The CCO and the staff at this particular unit worked their hardest to provide worthwhile opportunities and skills for youth, and that was a really huge factor to why I stayed with the program. 

What have been the highlights of your cadet career?  

I’ve done some pretty amazing things during my Cadet career. I’ve had the privilege to be a cast member in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo twice, I’ve gone to countless summer camps, I’ve competed in multiple music and drill competitions, and I’ve even been on a Regional and National Cadet council, where we discussed ways we could better the Cadet program using suggestions from  

One of the goals of the Sea Cadet program is to develop future leaders and active citizens with a genuine interest in their community and country. How do you think your participation in the cadet program has set you up for success as you are faced with challenges in the future? 

The Cadet Program is very well known for discovering natural born leaders, and teaching them how to utilize their skills in a team setting. I personally struggled for a really long time on how to work as a team rather than as an individual, and with a lot of support I was able to take away these skills and apply them to adult life. 

How did you feel winning the Music Sea Cadet of the Year, and what advice would you want to share with those who might be on the fence about joining the Cadet programs? 

I felt very honoured! I’ve spent a very big part of my Cadet career attending music seminars, practices, camps, basically anything I could do to learn more about music. It’s probably the thing I use to promote the Cadet program the most, I get to tell people all the time about how I joined the program barely even knowing how to play the clarinet, to being the top Sea Cadet Musician in Canada, and that’s pretty cool. The advice I would give to anyone about joining the program is; take the plunge and do it, because the worst that could happen is you don’t like it. The best-case scenario is that you like it, and excel to get some pretty cool experiences and awards out of it! 

If you were to address the national partners in the Leagues and DND/CAF, what advice and recommendations would you provide on how to make the Cadet Programs more attractive to young people and how to rebuild the program after the restrictions of the past two years? 

A positive environment goes a really long way for youth. Having somewhere where everyone feels comfortable and accepted is key. Striving to maintain a strong and supportive group of staff is key to providing Cadets an opportunity to learn and grow. 

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