Ever since he was young, Stuart Whyte had the passion to serve his country in the military. He stressed the importance of respecting those who have fallen in the line of duty, the veterans who played an integral role in defending the country, and those who are currently serving overseas, or are stationed on Canadian soil.
Stuart is currently training at the Royal Military College of Canada, based in Kingston, Ont., on the peninsula. He is in the Cadet wing, B division, 6 squadron, Romeo flight and has entered the Mechanical Engineering program of the RMC.
“I have always wanted to defend what Canada stands for and the freedoms that we are allowed,” said Stuart, responding to emailed questions sent to his parents.
He had attended a career fair at the University of Regina, where he first made contact with the RMC representatives that had attended the fair.
“They spoke of such brotherhood and a sense of purpose, that I knew that I needed to be a part of how they dedicate their lives to our country. People often think that the Army means fighting in the war, and shooting guns, but it is so much more than that. There are so many other things that the Army does, helping with disasters and humanitarian efforts.”
Stuart is the son of Cam and Lori Whyte, who run a grain and cattle farm near Bengough. Pride doesn’t begin to describe how his parents feel about Stuart’s passion for serving in the military.
“The commitment that he has shown both through the screening process and then the condensed basic training, leaves a person with a ‘glad it is him not me’ feeling,” said Lori, via email correspondence.
“The community fully supports his decision and are quite proud. As we shared the RMC Facebook posts, the well-wishes were abundant.”
Stuart had worked at the Bengough Co-op grocery store in his Grade 12 year as a student, then with COVID cancelling classes, he decided to work more hours to help out which allowed him to meet a lot of the community through the COVID delivery service provided. “We are still asked by people how he is doing,” said Lori.
The Mechanical Engineer program at RMC will require quite a few years of service. Stuart is looking forward to being an officer and knows that there is no limit to succeeding, if he puts himself to the task. “The Canadian Army isn't just in Canada, you can go anywhere in the world. This will be quite an adventure that only a few people are selected to be a part of,” said Stuart.
Close to 5,000 applications are received by the RMC each year, but only a small percentage is accepted. This year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, there was a slight delay in notifying successful candidates. Stuart had felt quite anxious when he didn’t hear from the RMC right away, but was overwhelmed with gratitude when he was notified that his application was accepted.
According to his parents, Stuart was always interested in war history. Cam recalls Stuart mentioned at nine years old that he wanted to defend his country when he gets older. Both a great grandfather on his father’s side, and a great uncle, had served in the Second World War.
“He is proud to be a Canadian and he also informed some people last year about the importance of wearing a poppy to support our veterans. For a student in Grade 12, that shows just how committed he was with the choice to join the army,” said Lori.
Stuart had the opportunity to gain independence and confidence from his parents, growing up on their farm near Bengough. “We have always felt our kids need to learn to be self sufficient. This meant not giving up, you find a solution to a problem, don’t just ignore it and hope it goes away. You need to dig down deep inside, then when you think the tank is empty, push a little further,” said Lori.
“He took it one step further and set his own goals and most times reached or exceeded them. He is sure missed during harvest and fall, but the farm will be here when he decides to come back again. He still plans to join the farm later, but is enjoying seeing what else is out there.”
The training at the RMC was condensed this year due to the pandemic. The cadets were flown out to Kingston at the beginning of August instead of July, then quarantined for 14 days, and were training until the middle of September.
Stuart noted that normally the RMC would have a ceremony with spectators watching the new cadets march through the arch, which is a major milestone for those cadets, as well in the past spectators were allowed along the obstacle course to cheer on the participants.
With public health guidelines in place, the RMC are documenting these milestones on their Facebook page for parents and family members to virtually share. Once the obstacle course and training was completed, online school began for the cadets.
That moment of completing the obstacle course and ringing the bell was a personal achievement for Stuart. He also was very proud of the badging ceremonies, where a Member of the Old Guard from the RMC with medals displayed on his uniform would give the cadets their starting medals and wish them luck.
“They didn't just shrug off your accomplishment, they were so happy and proud of you for making it this far.”
Stuart noted that for him, the learning of French is quite daunting, as he never took any classes before. “Most of the other members are bilingual, but then I met some that were on the other side of it, that spoke only French and they needed to learn English. There has been constant support from other members to help me learn in my first semester.”
The changes from high school learning to college has been difficult for Stuart, but everyone is in the same boat with changes to online learning that are offered by the RMC during this pandemic. “I really want to do this, so I will do what I need to in order to figure it out,” he said.