It was no easy decision for Lloyd Francis to leave Naujaat after five years.
“It’s hard to sum-up my time in Naujaat,” he said. “I really felt accepted by the community and I’ll definitely miss everyone there for a long time.”
Francis had grown close to the community, the students he taught and especially the cadets of the 3055 RCACC that he helped become the best corps in Nunavut during his tenure in the community.
Francis, 29, said he was more worried about the future of the cadet program in Naujaat than anything else, as the time for his departure drew ever nearer earlier this month.
He said there is nothing solid yet, but he’s still harbouring hope the program that is near and dear to his heart will continue.
“There is a little glimmer of hope that someone will be taking over,” said Francis. “I became an air cadet when I was 12 years of age in September of 2001, remaining a cadet for the next six years, and I worked with the same squadron during the four years I did my undergraduate studies in Cape Breton, N.S.
“I also worked with the army cadet program in Antigonish, N.S., during the two years I was there to do my bachelor of education before leading the Naujaat corps for five years.”
Francis said the kids really made his five years with the 3055 RCACC in Naujaat an easy time.
He had a great core group of cadets including senior cadets Anita Kopak, Jonathan Ijjangiaq, Gene Siusangnark and Terance Mapsalak, he said.
“Having a strong leader at the front of the cadets made it easy for me to do some of the work I did,” he said. “From my perspective, I just looked for as many opportunities for the cadets as possible, because I was fortunate enough to get so many opportunities from the cadet program when I was a kid. If it wasn’t for cadets, there’s no way I would have been able to have so many wonderful experiences as a kid.”
Between cadets and Tim Hortons Camp, that was all I Francis was able to do as a youth because he came from a background where his parents couldn’t afford to put him into organized sports and other activities, he said.
When Francis found opportunities for the Naujaat cadets, and find them he did, they never let him down.
They almost always excelled at whatever adventure they were on and always did a great job representing Naujaat and Nunavut.
Francis said the land trips he participated in with both the school and the cadets, “were just amazing, and I will never forget some of the trips we were on together like taking 20 cadets to Port Alberni, B.C., this past year, as well as going to Europe with four cadets.”
Francis said when he was making the decision whether to leave Naujaat this year, the 3055 RCACC was the biggest thing in the pro column of keeping him in the community.
He struggled with his decision for awhile because he didn’t want to leave for the sake of the future of the program.
“I worried a little bit that some of the kids might think I was abandoning them, but I think they understood,” he said. “A lot of people realized I stayed in Naujaat longer than a lot of teachers do, so I did receive a lot of thank yous from the community for staying as long as I did. I do feel a little bit like I’m leaving them, but I know the community does want the program and a lot of people support it, so now it’s a matter of putting the pieces in place to keep it going next year.”
Francis said he timed his announcement to coincide with the corps’ 20th anniversary celebration this past March.
He said he timed it so the kids and the community would know he was leaving, and still have some time to deal with it.
“I didn’t want to keep it a secret and then just spring it on them when it was time to leave, so I think they had some time to adjust,” he said. “There’s some apprehension among the cadets over the fate of the program with me gone, but I still have faith the community is going to come through and the program will still be there next year.”