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.