Terrorist attack halts Maple Ridge cadets

Youth groups told not to meet for time being, update Monday

Chris Johnston with Coronation Squadron air cadets says group has been told to stand down.

Chris Johnston with Coronation Squadron air cadets says group has been told to stand down.

Wednesday’s shooting at the National War Memorial in Ottawa has hit close to home with the cancellation of air, sea and army cadet activities this week.

“All activities, everything was cancelled. We can’t even go there since yesterday,” said Chris Johnston, one of the volunteers with the 583 Coronation Squadron Air Cadets.

“The ground school at Pitt Meadows airport, that’s cancelled, too. Everything to do with the air cadets is cancelled, until they tell us why,” he added.

“I think it’s everything that has some kind of touch with the Department of National Defence.”

The same goes for the sea and army cadets that train weekly at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 88 in Maple Ridge.

The 354 RCSCC  Invincible Sea Cadets and 1838 RCACC, Army Cadets train out of the legion branch four nights a week.

Air cadet commanding officer Capt. Mike Palmer said training involving first-aid, biathlon, and marksmanship takes place several nights a week at the cadet building at the Albion fairgrounds.

The order to stand down is just in effect until Monday, when an update will be issued.

“The cadets missed out on five days worth of training, basically,” Palmer added.

“We’re just going to take stock and see what’s going on and make sure everything is safe for the cadets.”

The order came from the commander of the Pacific region with the Department of National Defence.

Canadian Forces members in the Ottawa area also have been told not to wear their uniforms off duty following the fatal shooting of reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the  memorial, outside the House of Commons.

Johnston’s grandson, Grifyn McErlean, 16, is in the air cadets and is trying to earn is power flying scholarship.

“Asking our troops to not wear their uniforms, I almost cried at that,” said Johnston.

“How about wear a uniform and carry a firearm. I can’t imagine the Americans or Brits telling their soldiers, ‘Don’t wear a uniform in public.’

“My belief is that Canadians have been sleepy for the last couple of years. There’s a lot of people on the watch list,” he said.

After the fatal shooting at the memorial, the attacker stormed into Parliament’s Centre Block when politicians were in meetings.

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp was in the Conservative caucus meeting next to the hallway where a fierce gun battle took place.

The meeting started about 9:30 a.m. Gunshots rang out about 10 a.m.

“It’s been a bit hectic here, unusual, of course. A day you don’t expect,” Kamp said.

He and about 150 Conservative MPs and Senators were locked into the room and remained there until about 6 p.m., then were escorted off the hill.

“The shooting started in the entrance, which isn’t very far from our room. The door to our room is on the Hall of Honour and if he had known that and taken a left turn, it could have been quite a different situation.”

Kamp said: “Basically, the whole caucus was there, including me.”

But the timing fortunate because everyone was in the meeting rooms and not in the halls when the shooting broke out.

It was difficult to know what was going outside, Kamp said. MPs didn’t learn the details until later. There was monitor in the room, but no TV.

“It was eight or nine hours that you don’t want to repeat.”

Kamp said he doesn’t think he was ever in fear for his life and was confident in the security forces in the building, noting there were several ex-police and military among the Conservative MPs.

“That was comforting to know.”