Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

August 17, 2012 11:16 ET

57 Aboriginal Youth Graduate from the Black Bear Program

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Aug. 17, 2012) - A parade was held yesterday at Canadian Forces Base Borden, to mark the graduation of Aboriginal youth from the seven-week Black Bear Youth Development Program. Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, Commander Canadian Army and Mr. Peter Ittinuar, the first Inuk Member of Parliament and highly respected member of the Aboriginal community, were in attendance as the reviewing officers for the 57 graduating Aboriginal youth from across Canada.

During the seven weeks, the recruits held the rank of private and participated in military and Aboriginal culture events including sharing circles, Pow Wows, drill and weapons training as well as training in the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear personal protection equipment.

"I can't stress enough the importance of the Black Bear program in further strengthening the Canadian Army's connection with Aboriginal peoples and preparing the Canadian Forces of tomorrow," said Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin.

"When they walked in here, they were typical teenagers, but by week five they were starting to act like any other private in any other organization in the military," said MWO William Vardy, Senior Instructor for the Black Bear Program. "I think many of them grew into young adults much faster than they realized."

The recruits came from various First Nations, Métis and Inuit backgrounds from across Canada and had varying levels of knowledge about their history and heritage. At the beginning of their training, the recruits participated in a culture camp, which taught them about traditional medicine wheel teachings, Aboriginal military history, and Aboriginal culture under the guidance of Aboriginal Elders.

Black Bear is a training and employment program for Aboriginal youth from across Canada. Successful applicants participate in a range of cultural and military activities in Borden, Ontario, during the months of July and August. The application deadline for the program is the end of April. For more information on Aboriginal programs and opportunities visit: www.forces.ca.

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