Julie Sun is helping to shape our leaders of tomorrow. And for that, I think she deserves a heartfelt salute.
During the work week, Julie is a crackerjack Service Desk Lead in Calgary, helping to solve Long View client issues. But on evenings and weekends — out on the parade square, as well as the forests and the rolling hills of southern Alberta — she’s Capt. Sun.
Since 1997, Julie has been an officer with the 2137 Calgary Highlanders, the largest Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps unit on the Canadian prairies. After spending three years as the unit’s Commanding Officer, Julie is now the Deputy Commanding Officer (DCO) and Training Officer of the 2137 Highlanders.
As Director of People Services, I see countless examples of a caring culture at Long View, with members of our team working hard to strengthen the fabric of their community. In my mind, Julie is a prime example.
Besides promoting physical fitness, and generating an interest in the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Cadet movement aims to develop good citizens and future leaders among youth aged 12 to 18. And for most of her time with the 2137 Highlanders, Julie has been responsible for developing and rolling out the corps’ training plan from year to year.
“The kids get so much out of the program. They develop leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, and communication skills,” says Julie. “I got introduced by my brother more than 15 years ago, and I’m still doing it because I love seeing how much the kids grow during their time with the program.”
The Army branch of the Canadian Cadet corps focuses on adventure training. Under Julie’s direction, the 2137 Highlanders gather in the classroom one night a week. Then, they put that education to good use throughout the year with weekend training exercises revolving around themes of search-and-rescue, navigation, and survival camping.
The 2137 Highlanders also have their own pipe-and-drum band, and the corps offers complimentary music lessons to any Cadet who aspires to test their musical chops.
This past spring, Julie and other officers with the 2137 Highlanders took a dozen Cadets to Europe for a battlefield tour. It’s an event organized every three years by the corps as a reward for longstanding membership in the 2137 Highlanders.
The group visited battle sites from the First and Second World Wars including Normandy, Dieppe, Vimy Ridge, Ypres, the Somme, and Passchendaele, and also toured the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp where Anne Frank died in March 1945. “We wanted to show the Cadets what war looks like through the eyes of both soldiers and civilians,” says Julie.
There are more than 7,500 Cadet instructors like Julie across Canada, and she has no plans to step back any time soon — because she knows how much of a difference she’s making to the lives of our future leaders.
“It’s really satisfying talking to the kids who were once part of our program,” says Julie. “They’ve told me: ‘You know what? Cadets really taught me about public speaking, about working with others, about how to be a leader.’ That is really rewarding for me.”
(Photo of 2137 Calgary Highlanders during European battlefield tour, in the spring of 2013, courtesy Julie Sun)