The Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF) annual Indigenous youth leadership summer program, Black Bear, graduated 33 indigenous youth today after six weeks of military training.
“I congratulate the Black Bear class of 2017 for successfully completing their training. This annual summer program not only imparts valuable military training and skills to youth, it also assists 5th Canadian Division to connect with our vital Indigenous communities from many regions of our great nation. It is truly an endeavor that benefits all involved and is a source of considerable pride for myself and all members of 5th Canadian Division,” said BGen. D.A. Macaulay, Commander 5th Canadian Division.
A number of candidates were especially recognized during the parade on Friday. Private Patrick Leblanc received the award for Top Candidate; Private Raeann Rivers received the award for Top Shot, and Private Jordan Fontaine received the award for Most Improved.
Every summer the Black Bear program provides indigenous youth with an opportunity to enhance valuable skills like self-confidence, self-discipline, time management, and teamwork, within a military context.
Participants undergo the Primary Reserve Basic Military Training Course. They are taught and evaluated by experienced military instructors in areas such as physical fitness, weapons handling, military knowledge, map and compass navigation, First Aid and leadership.
Additionally, the program includes a three-day Indigenous culture camp taught by the elders of various communities to learn about the traditions and cultures of various Indigenous communities in Canada. The youth also visit a local sweat lodge and Pow Wows.
After the successful completion of the program, the candidates can apply to join the CAF, if they chose.
“The Black Bear program is an incredible opportunity for this group of candidates from all over Canada to experience the Canadian Armed Forces lifestyle. This unique training experience has imparted them with memories and invaluable life skills. I’m proud to host this national program at 5th Canadian Division Training Centre and proud of the graduates and their instructors. I also express my sincere gratitude to local Indigenous communities which have been supportive of the program,” said LCol. E.G. MacEachern, Commanding Officer 5th Canadian Division Training Centre.
To apply for next year’s Black Bear program or learn more about the CAF’s other Indigenous youth leadership programs, such as the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year, the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program, and Aboriginal Summer Training Programs Bold Eagle, Eagle’s Nest, and Raven, click here.