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Summer Camp

August 2006
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Raven Recruits
July 2006
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Previous Years

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Canadian Forces Aboriginal
Entry Program

3 week program Raven Platoon


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Voice Report on August Graduation

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"You have won first place in the hearts of family and friends."
Elder Elmer George

Songhees Nation
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"I am glad to see you chose this program
. . . a person has to be strong."
Chief Rodger Redman

Standing Buffalo First Nation
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Proud Family
with Triple Award Winner Ryan Peterson

(Left to Right )
Ryan's mom Jodi, Grandmother Martha, Ryan, Grandad Gordon, Ryan's Dad Wayne
Stepmom Ruby, and Lacey Iskar, Ryan's girfriend
(Front row young people Right to Left)
Sophia Issac-Baker, baby Xaydan Peterson (sleeping), Cedarus Issac-Baker
Cole Peterson (in the green shirt)
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Marksmanship Award Winner
Trudee-Lynn Paul

with Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnola

Lieutenant Governor's Speech
Maritime Forces Pacific Raven
Programme Graduation
Work Point Venture Parade Square
CFB Esquimalt
Victoria BC
August 25th, 2006
HAdeC: Commander Emile JL Chartrand

Base Commander Captain Mike Williamson, Your Worship Chris Clement, Chief Robert Sam of the Songhees First Nation, Honoured Elders and Hereditary Chiefs, Chief Warrant Officer Lewis, Members of Canada's Armed Forces and Raven Platoon, proud parents, families and friends:

I acknowledge with respect the Songhees and Esquimalt Peoples of the Coast Salish First Nation in whose traditional territories this proud ceremony takes place. Il est pour mois un honneur de vous souhaitez personellement mes sentiments sincere audjourdui. Today we salute the young men and women ranged before us, who have completed their training in the Maritime Forces Pacific Raven Programme. The object of this Programme is to assist a select group of First Nations and Aboriginal Youth from across British Columbia to realize your own strengths and leadership abilities. By being part of this important Team and in this graduation ceremony today, you are announcing to your family and friends that you can take on a difficult task, stick with it, see it through and take from it all that is best to add to your own life and future.

Today's Canada boasts people from every human beginning, but First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples have the longest heritage on these precious lands that we now all share. As representatives of the most ancient culture in this society of many cultures, you have roots that go deep into this land, giving you gifts that you bring to the whole community that can never be underestimated. As a people with many distinctive governance processes, arts, music, dance, ritual and spiritual beliefs that are close to the natural world, you will note that the longer we all live together, the more like this land we all become. For instance, we have all come to know First Nation legends and creation stories surrounding among others Eagle, Bear, Orca and Raven. By naming this Platoon for Raven, it signifies that addition to the hard work of achieving self-discipline, growing in confidence and making improvements in your personal physical fitness, you have also had some time to make new friends and perhaps even to enjoy a few Raven-inspired tricks and fun!

Canadian history is filled examples of First Nations and Aboriginal heroes, including warriors like Tecumseh or The Six Nations Chief Joseph Brant. During World War One, the most decorated First Nations Canadian Soldier was Francis Pegahmagabow of Parry Sound Ontario who distinguished himself and survived that terrible war. 'Peggy' as his comrades called him, returned to Canada with a still unbroken record as a Sniper and during the 1940's was one of the founders of the precursor Organization to today's Assembly of First Nations. In World War Two and later in Korea, Sergeant Tommy Prince was Canada's most decorated soldier. His name became synonymous with honours that you can see proudly displayed in military museums here in British Columbia and at the National War Museum in Ottawa.

Although Raven experience could lead you to a career in the military, that is not its purpose. In this time when our thoughts and prayers are with our troops serving Canada particularly on the Afghanistan Mission, but also in Dafur, the Sudan, in Haiti, the Congo and elsewhere, we remember previous conflicts where Canada played a respected international role. We remember all the Aboriginal and First Nations Veterans, finally recognized for their service to this country, who were approximately the same age you are today when they offered themselves to serve Canada. We offer them our respect and gratitude for their gallantry and courage and for helping to secure a Peace that lasted for more than half a century.

As Raven Grads you are encouraged to continue testing yourself and using your new skills to achieve your own best dreams and hopes. Raven Platoon has offered you a whole new world of possibilities to examine, to experience and to experiment with, until you find your own highest level of achievement. I urge you to use this time of training that you have undergone as a springboard to realization your own very best self! We pay special tribute today to Canada's Pacific Navy, led by Rear Admiral Roger Girourard and the Officers, members, training and support staff who have secured and led in your training. We salute your parents and families for their support of your dedication to this period of personal growth. We congratulate each one of you, for sticking with your training even when the 'going got tough' and for learning new skills and for working hard to find your own special strengths that you have always had, but that you now KNOW for certain you can rely on throughout your life.

Being a first-class Cadet in Raven Platoon is great preparation for life! This is an important day in your lives and one that I believe you will remember all your days. Happy Graduation! May your future be filled with honour and dignity and always with some of the well-earned freedom and flight of the RAVEN! Congratulations one and all!

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Click Here for More Photos
Raven Platoon Graduation Ceremony August 2006
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Raven - Culture Camp 2006
Esquimalt Nation Bighouse
Raven Platoon Learned About Respect
for Culture and Traditions
Listening and Learning!
Veteran Len Desjarlais Shares Stories

Youth Showed Respect
They Presented a Gift to Chief Andy Thomas

NOTE: You Can Click on the Photos to View Larger Images
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Ravens Raving About Navy

(Photo by: Sharon Tiffin/Victoria News)
Raven Lawrence Derrick from Mt. Craig hits the floor to perform 30 pushups for having his pocket unbuttoned
on board HMCS Brandon Monday afternoon as aboriginal youths from across the country tried out the naval lifestyle.

Ravens Raving About Navy
By Michelle Martin
Victoria News

Aug 18 2006

Aboriginal youths given a taste of life aboard a naval vessel

HMCS Brandon's upper deck exploded with the energetic cheers and boisterous laughter of 31 aboriginal youths.

Oscar the dummy had just toppled into the ocean and quick-moving navy reservists are preparing for the rescue attempt. The pressure is on; five minutes is all it takes for hypothermia to kick in.

The "man overboard" simulation is standard procedure for the reservists. But for the newest ordinary seamen the drill was a highlight of the seven-week Raven program.

That is certainly the case for OS Requel Rope of the Nakoda Nation. The two-hour introduction to navy life Monday - on day one of week six - marked the first time the 16-year-old Saskatchewan native has ever been aboard a ship.

"It's so much fun," she said excitedly, explaining how she briefly steered the five-level ship as it surged through the water at 15 knots.

Rope had no idea the Raven program, based from CFB Esquimalt's Work Point, would be so intriguing.

She had originally applied to Raven's sister program, Bold Eagle in Wainwright, Alta., but couldn't resist the opportunity to explore Victoria instead - especially since she's considering heading to UVic's nursing program after she graduates from high school next year.

Reasons for joining the program vary among the 16 to 22-year-old youths.

Nevertheless, they all proved their will to be there through an extensive application process, a process that disqualified more than 75 per cent of the applicants.

Upon graduation, the close-knit group of Raven participants will have earned partial Basic Military Qualifications as Class B reservists and will have earned about $4000 over the course of the program.

PO2 Allan MacRae, platoon commander and Raven program co-ordinator, called the program that kicked off July 9 "boot camp with a twist."

Week one began with a military makeover - including an army green uniform and military-issued haircuts - and continued with culture camp featuring local Songhees and Esquimalt elders.

"A lot of aboriginal kids these days don't have their culture," he said, noting that such cultural values as respect for elders, self-discipline and teamwork parallel with military values.

The weeks that followed focused on proper military conduct, field training, weapons training and a first aid course. The program's structured military lifestyle has the youth waking at 5 a.m., with a lights out at 10:30 p.m. at the Work Point barracks they currently call home. Their days are filled with extensive physical activity, including various drills and training.

By week six, the military drills were even influencing their behaviour on their free time.

Rope laughed as she explained how they would find themselves spontaneously marching in unison when exploring downtown Victoria on their day off.

PO2 MacRae has noticed positive changes among the youth. He credits these changes to the program's focus on self-discipline, confidence, teamwork and physical fitness.

On Monday, the recruits couldn't hide their excitement for the weeks to come. Tuesday, they were heading to the shooting range in Nanaimo to finally apply their weapons training. There they'd shoot a C-7 rifle - the same rifle that soldiers are currently carrying in Afghanistan. And Wednesday would be the first of four days of field training at Rocky Point.

"It's army training," said PO2 MacRae, noting that surviving in the field means learning to hide, feed, rest and defend oneself.

The adventure that the youth in the Raven program experience often entices them to enlist.

"It's not meant to be a recruiting tool, but it just is," he said.

Five of the 44 Raven graduates over the last two years have returned to CFB Esquimalt to continue training.

"That's outstanding," he said, noting that this year five or six more youth have shown interest in returning.

OS Trudee Paul, 18, of the Ahousaht Nation is one potential future recruit.

She's thought about joining the army before, but when she discovered all the navy has to offer, she thought, "Why not?"

Growing up just off Flores Island near Tofino, she's lived close to the ocean all her life. The navy, she figures, would be a good fit.

She was recruited for the Raven program when PO2 MacRae visited her school.

Each year, he begins recruiting throughout remote communities on the Island for the next summer intake in October.

This year, about half of the Raven participants came from the Island, with the others from the Lower Mainland, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

In the future, PO2 MacRae hopes the program will reach capacity at 50 students. The problem is not so much a lack of applicants, but a lack of qualified applicants.

However, each year the numbers grow.

"Our greatest recruiting tool is word of mouth from the Ravens," he explained.

From the banter of the bunch, it seems the program will be getting rave reviews when they return to their communities after graduation next week.

Copyright 2006 Victoria News
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