Wainwright, Alberta — Bold Eagle is a Canadian Forces program designed for Aboriginal youth in Western Canada. The students who graduate from the program receive Army Reserve Basic Military Qualification training (BMQ), potential high school credits, $3,400 and a character-building experience to last a lifetime.
In addition, Native customs and traditions are embraced throughout the program. One of the unique aspects of Bold Eagle is Culture Camp, which makes up the first four days of the program. During the camp, students learn traditional teachings by elders, take part in pipe ceremonies and sweat lodges, and even build traditional teepees.
Throughout this relatively relaxed portion of the course, two elders living in the camp are available to the recruits during training, where students foster teamwork and better prepare themselves a military or civilian career. “It’s really about building a personal resume for the future for the youth who attend the program,” said Maj Kemp.
Basic military qualification
In the end, there is a graduation parade with a unique blend of military and Native traditions. The new Chief of the Land Staff, Lieutenant-General Peter Devlin, acted as the reviewing officer.
This year’s 86 graduates bring the total number of Bold Eagle alumni to over 1,000 since the program began 21 years ago. Its success has spawned two additional Aboriginal programs: Raven, a Navy course on the West Coast, and the newer Black Bear, in Borden, Ontario.
Article by MCpl David McVeigh
Photos by MCpl Peter Simpson and Cpl Tina Gillies