Staff prepare for Raven recruits

Photo by Leading Seaman David Gariepy, MARPAC Imaging Services

Photo by Leading Seaman David Gariepy, MARPAC Imaging Services

SLt M.X. Déry, MARPAC Public Affairs ~

Next week, staff for the upcoming Raven BMQ (Basic Military Qualification) program will begin preparing for the arrival of 40 Indigenous youth from across Canada. The course will run July 4 to Aug. 14.

The outreach program is designed to build bridges into Indigenous communities throughout Canada and show young Indigenous people the potential for part-time employment or a full-time career with the Canadian Armed Forces.

“We give these recruits new skills, new attitudes, confidence and above all, opportunity,” said MS Michelle Howell,
lead instructor and full-time Raven coordinator.

Every year presents challenges for staff since each group of recruits is diverse.

“One year we had more females on course than males, which was a welcomed surprise; however, we had to change some of our tactics,” explained MS Howell. “Another year we had a greater number of younger students, 16 to 17 year olds versus 18 to 21, which presented another twist.”

The 24 military staff will prepare for the recruits arrival by learning their lesson plans and brushing up on skills such as inspections, drill, topography (map and compass), physical training, weapons handling and field craft.

“All staff undergo a three-day Aboriginal awareness course,” said MS Howell. “This course ensures everyone is aware of the Indigenous history of Canada. It also teaches staff a little bit about where our recruits are coming from.”

The Raven BMQ course includes a three-and-a-half day Culture Camp in Nanoose Bay. The camp is run by an Indigenous coordinator and includes Métis, Inuit and First Nation teachings. After the camp, two civilian Indigenous staff remain on course as counsellors to provide support to the recruits throughout the BMQ. This helps the recruits adapt to being far from home, surrounded by people they have never met from different yet linked cultures.

“Our hope is the students go home with new perspectives, realizing their potential within, and all the opportunities out there in the world,” said MS Howell.

While the course is challenging for the recruits, it has many highlights.

“Recruits always love the day sail, as we go out on either the Orcas or MCDVs for the day, the Confidence Course at Albert Head, the Firing Range, and always the food!”

For the staff, the highlight is seeing the recruits come through on graduation day.

“The difference you see in the students from the start of course to the end is remarkable and heartwarming,” said MS Howell.  “Upon completion of the course, the students have a choice to continue with the CAF, either as Reserve or Regular Force, and each year we’re retaining more and more so we must be doing something right.”

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