Last parade closes final chapter on cadet experience

(Chief Warrant Officer (CWO) Tasha Bajpai leads her last parade for the march past on Friday, August 4, 2023, at Connaught Cadet Training Centre. Photo Credit: OCdt J.T. Lewis, Unit Public Affairs Representative, Connaught CTC.)

It was the last parade on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, for local resident Chief Warrant Officer Tasha Bajpai, a fitting end to a fine cadet career for this summer’s Cadet Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) at Connaught Cadet Training Centre (CTC) near Ottawa.

A member of 640 Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps, Bajpai came to what would be her last time at a CTC hoping for one of the top five cadet positions available. After a week of training, she was selected to be in the top cadet position.

As her final chapter of being a cadet was being written, Bajpai took some time to reflect on her life in the cadets and the overall program.

“When I was 12 and I came into cadets I was very, very, very quiet,” she said. “The cadet program has given me a lot of confidence in myself, I definitely had very low self-esteem, it brought me out of my shell, and it’s given me a lot of experiences.”

“I was always very ambitious in cadets so I would always try to volunteer for all these things to participate in even the little things like: ‘yes, I will help put away the chairs’,” Bajpai said.

Tasha’s newfound confidence allowed her to explore several opportunities both inside the program and out. “I’m always volunteering with my school, with my band, I’m like ‘Yes, I’ll help with this committee, I will get you names, I will get things organized’,” she said. “I think cadets is where it started for me which allowed me to start branching off into other directions for volunteering.”

She oversaw the Best Buddies program at her high school which helps people with special needs, volunteers with her aunt helping at the YMCA and she helps edit a small magazine. “Cadets gave me that confidence to go out and do volunteering, it helped me say ‘yes’ more often,” Tasha said.

“I would like to do more volunteering though,” she said. “I would like to help out more with special needs programs, my brother has special needs, and I would like to end up with a leadership role in that.”

Bajpai discussed the importance of cadets volunteering with the community. “I think it helps with the community aspect of cadet life, showing ‘hey, all these youth are helping clean up a park or something like that’,” she said. “I think that is very encouraging for the families around and, of course, it helps out the community.”

While in the cadet program Bajpai received several medals which recognize her hard work. She has received the Army Cadet Service Medal with six years of service clasp, The Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans of Canada (ANAVETS) Cadet Medal of Merit and the Royal Canadian Legion Cadet Medal of Excellence.

(CWO Tasha Bajpai salutes as the reviewing officer attends the parade on Friday, August 4, 2023, at Connaught Cadet Training Centre. Photo Credit: OCdt J.T. Lewis, Unit Public Affairs Representative, Connaught CTC.)

Bajpai talked about facing a challenge in her cadet career that helped to temper her as a person today, the Basic Expedition Course – “Six days of expedition is very challenging on the body and the mind but being able to push myself out of the comfort zone,” she said “It allows me now to be less scared of doing more things that make life so great, like taking this gap year and going traveling, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to do that if not for cadets. I’m away from home for so long but, I’ve had that experience in cadets.”

Having finished high school at Earl of March and the cadet program, Tasha is planning on taking a gap year to travel in Australia and New Zealand, then India, and then to Quebec for French exchange. “So, lots of travelling, then after that, I will be going to Carlton University for theoretical physics,” she said. “Thinking of becoming a researcher, I will need my doctorate, so, I think I will be a professor too.” “That’s the path so far,” she said.

Ending her cadet career at the CTC was rewarding for Bajpai and is a highlight in her cadet career.

“Being the RSM at the corps is very different because it doesn’t have that aspect of ‘you have to be RSM all the time,’” Bajpai said. “After 2 hours each week you go home.” She said that at her home corps being the RSM involved a lot of teaching and advising. “Whereas here it is a lot more supervision, it is a lot more morale, it is a lot more working with other people all the time,” she said. “At the corps, I can wait a week for a decision,” she said. “You always have to be on top of things right away, you can’t wait a week until you can implement things.”

At the training centre the Cadet RSM has many responsibilities some are: management of the staff cadets, ensuring that the course cadets have proper supervision during all their activities, maintaining the standards of Cadets Canada throughout the CTC, as well as implementing policies and procedures.

Last year, Bajpai was an ammo NCO Sergeant with the Fullbore Marksmanship Phase 1 course. She missed the pre-course due to COVID.

“I was a Sergeant in fullbore which I was grateful for,” she said. “Having that experience was very nice.” “I had to learn to be a follower, learning from my leaders, how to be a leader, observing a lot,” she said. “And now, well, I know a lot of the struggles of the Sergeants and can help them.” “I think last year helped me to build the confidence to be in a higher up position right now,” she said. “It helped create me in ‘this is who I am, I’m confident in my decisions, I have made good decisions in the past, I’ve succeeded in the past by being the Sergeant and now I know I can do well.’”

Under her leadership, this summer has gone quite well for the staff cadets and course cadets at the CTC. “I think it worked out pretty well, the place is not on fire so at least I did something right,” Bajpai mused. “My staff has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “I think our supervision has gotten better by creating a duty schedule. I brought forward the idea that we need to have duty shifts for all staff cadets to help with the supervision in the down time.”

(It was CWO Tasha Bajpai’s last parade on Friday, August 4, 2023, at Connaught Cadet Training Centre. Photo Credit: OCdt J.T. Lewis, Unit Public Affairs Representative, Connaught CTC.)

As this chapter in her book has drawn to a close, Bajpai discussed the cadet experience and how it will help with her future.

“I think that communication is going to help in working with others, working on projects,” she said. “I think the leadership skills I learned will help in other aspects of my life, like volunteering and working with other organizations.”

“Definitely time management, which helped a lot in school and everything else, she said.” Bajpai summarized her cadet experience saying: “I think the biggest takeaway (from the program) is how it’s brought me out of my shell, it’s made me confident by pushing me out of my comfort zone.”

The Cadet Program is open to all youth between the ages of 12-18 years old and develops confident, self-sufficient leaders who form lasting friendships and are engaged in their communities while promoting physical fitness, healthy living, and fostering an interest in the activities of the Canadian Armed Forces. If you are ready for the challenge, visit


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