Raven’s remarkable recruits

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan inspects members of the Raven program during their graduation ceremony. Photo by MARPAC Imaging Services

Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan inspects members of the Raven program during their graduation ceremony. Photo by MARPAC Imaging Services

A/SLt Michelle Scott, MARPAC Public Affairs ~

It was a day that will long be marked in the memory of the 40 graduating members of the Raven program.

In a parade that included Minister of Indigenous Services Seamus O’Regan as Reviewing officer, the ordinary seamans received their basic military qualification at Work Point on Aug. 13.

The six-week Raven course is one of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Indigenous Summer Programs that aim to build bridges between Aboriginal communities and the military, and to raise awareness among Indigenous people of potential military or civilian careers with the CAF.

The parade began with an Indigenous drumming circle performed by members of CFB Esquimalt’s Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group, followed by a sash ceremony that saw five Raven students receive Métis sashes to wear on parade.

It was then that Raven student and Parade Platoon Commander OS Reed Eady marched his platoon out onto the parade square accompanied by the sounds of the Albert Head Air Cadet Band all to the delight of friends and family in attendance.

Their drill sharp and well-practiced, the platoon waited on the parade square for the arrival of Minister O’Regan, the teepee erected off to the side serving as the perfect backdrop for the occasion.

Minister O’Regan arrived shortly after to inspect the platoon and address the audience. In his speech he made mention that he had been looking forward to the day since he was sworn in as Minister of Indigenous Services, both in part due to his previous role as Minister of Veterans Affairs and his connection to the CAF through his brother who serves in the navy in Esquimalt.

“That swell of pride that you feel here today is well earned,” he said. “I am very proud of every serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces and all those who have served, and today I am so proud of all of you, and I hope you can feel that.”

According to Raven staff, this year’s platoon came together to form a strong group early in the first week of the course. Only two did not make graduation.

“We could tell right away there was a good will to succeed in the group and as we can see, we have 40 graduating,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Guillaume Brochu, Officer in Charge of the program.

For a group that carries an average age of 17 years old, that is an impressive ratio, he added.

Also impressive is the number of Raven students who intend to join the CAF now that the program is over.

“This year we have approximately 31 recruits who want to join the CAF; it’s usually only 30 per cent, so that’s really high,” said Lt(N) Brochu.

OS Justin Fairbrother, 16, is one of those recruits. He plans to join the navy as a Naval Combat Information Operator. But first Fairbrother must head back home to Nanaimo, B.C., and Grade 11.

“I’m feeling super happy to be graduating. This is an amazing program and an amazing opportunity,” he exclaimed, a smile plastered across his face. “I’d recommend Raven 100 per cent – it teaches you so many life skills – discipline and respect, and opens so many opportunities, even if you don’t want to be in the military afterwards.”

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