Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 42st Parliament, Volume 150, Issue 17
  Wednesday, February 24, 2016
 
Question: Bold Eagle Program

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: I was wondering if the minister could tell us whether he was aware of the Bold Eagle Program, which is essentially a way of helping to recruit and to supply indigenous youth with summer employment and leadership training. If so, are there any plans to enhance that program?

Hon. Harjit S. Sajjan, P.C., M.P., Minister of National Defence: I'm very familiar with the Bold Eagle Program, actually; I have been since it first came out. When I was in uniform, one of my former soldiers, a master warrant officer, was one of the first to help revamp the program. He's from a First Nations community himself.

We not only need to increase it; we need to have much more active engagement, including from myself. I want to reach out because there's a rich history there. As the former lieutenant governor of B.C. stated he's also chief of, I believe, the First Nation community from Chilliwack the Bold Eagle program has brought back the warrior spirit in the community. We do need to reach out, especially with all the difficulty and challenges that some of the First Nations youth face. What a wonderful opportunity we have to be able to give them an opportunity to be in uniform and remind them of the wonderful history some of their predecessors have had.

Tommy Prince is one example, as is that one person I was talking about, Master Warrant Officer Leblanc (Ret). I must tell you his story. He was a corporal, and he was arrested for assault; he was always getting into trouble. One day I had to pick my team for a competition and he said, "Sir, can I be a part of it?" I said, "Come on, I don't know." He said, "Sir, give me a chance." I said, "Okay, fine, read this, and I'm going to test you in a week."

Not only did he do everything, but because I gave him that confidence, he excelled so much. He was awarded the Order of Military Merit. He's an award-winning author. He had two deployments to Afghanistan. He's not a reservist any longer, he's also a conservation officer.

When you give someone an opportunity, they can succeed and they will add value to a nation, as retired Master Warrant Officer Leblanc (Ret) has done for us.