Debates of the Senate  
1st Session, 41st Parliament,Volume 148, Issue 31
  Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Bold Eagle- Aboriginal Youth Development Program
Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, this past August I attended the Bold Eagle graduation in Wainwright, Alberta. The Bold Eagle program is the oldest partnership program between First Nations and the Canadian Forces for Aboriginal youth. The Bold Eagle program is now in its twenty-third year of operation, and over 1,000 First Nations youth have graduated.

This six-week course allows First Nations youth from across Western Canada and Northwestern Ontario to achieve basic military qualifications. This year, 70 candidates graduated from the program.

The day began with a pipe ceremony with elders and military personnel. I was very impressed by the military men and women involved in the Bold Eagle program. Their passion and dedication to the program were clearly evident. The officers spoke of how the Bold Eagle program transformed the individual cadets. They spoke of greeting a group of trainees who were perhaps somewhat unfocused when they arrived at the program but, who, after six weeks of basic military training, were proud of their Aboriginal identity and worked together as a well-disciplined team.

The Aboriginal youth programs offered by the Canadian Forces are Bold Eagle in Alberta, Raven in British Columbia and Black Bear in Ontario. Each of these regionally based programs covers applicants from across the country, with Black Bear offering training in both official languages. These programs develop self-discipline, teamwork, physical fitness and self-confidence. In addition, graduates earn up to $5,000 for their work throughout the course.

With youth unemployment in remote communities at almost 80 per cent, these Canadian Forces programs provide a great opportunity for Aboriginal youth to earn a good sum of money, gain valuable skills and learn more about their cultural identity. These programs strive to equip Aboriginal youth with successful opportunities upon completion of any of their courses. At the end of the course, a graduate may then decide whether to remain in the Canadian Forces and enter into the regular officer or reserve entry training programs after completion of secondary school, remain in the Canadian Forces as a non-commissioned member, leave the Canadian Forces to attend university or college, or return to their respective communities with a greater array of knowledge and skills.

The partnership of the Canadian Forces and the Aboriginal community offers an excellent opportunity to inspire, challenge and prepare youth to become our leaders of tomorrow. I would like to congratulate the graduates of the Bold Eagle program, as well as the graduates of this year's Raven and Black Bear courses. Well done.