The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be holding Bold Eagle, Black Bear, and Raven — its three Indigenous Summer Programs — across Canada throughout the months of July and August.
As part of the Indigenous Summer Programs, participants are enrolled as soldiers in the Primary Reserve of the Army or the Navy. All courses begin with a four-day Culture Camp, conducted by Indigenous Elders and teachers. Graduates receive a Reserve Basic Military Qualification, but have no obligation to continue to serve in the CAF.
Every year, the Bold Eagle, Black Bear, and Raven programs offer approximately 150 Indigenous youth a chance to develop valuable skills such as self-confidence, self-discipline, time management and teamwork, all this within a military context that respects and encourages Indigenous cultures.
“I am pleased that these three Indigenous Summer Programs have proved so successful over the years. This demonstratesthe strong links that exist between our Indigenous communities and the Canadian Armed Forces. Indigenous youth are provided the opportunity to experience life in the military and benefit from acquired skills, without any obligation to continue to serve. We hope that these character-building skills will benefit them for the rest of their lives, we also hope that some will choose the Canadian Armed Forces as a full or part-time career.”
Lieutenant-General Paul F. Wynnyk, Commander of the Canadian Army, and Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces Champion for Indigenous Peoples
• Bold Eagle, a Canadian Army program operating since 1990 out of Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Wainwright, Alberta, is the largest of the three programs.
• Black Bear, also a Canadian Army program originating in Borden, Ontario in 2008, has been held at CFB Gagetown, New Brunswick, since 2013.
• The Raven program, which is conducted by the Royal Canadian Navy, was implemented in the summer of 2003 and is held at CFB Esquimalt, British Columbia.
• Participants have direct access to guidance, support, and cultural teachings from dedicated program staff, including Indigenous Elders and Indigenous civilian counsellors throughout the duration of three summer programs.
• All participants are paid a salary, receive a Reserve Basic Military Qualification upon completion of their program, and can choose to pursue employment with the CAF.
Based on self-identification figures from June 2017, there are 2,478 Indigenous members currently serving in the CAF Regular Force and Primary Reserve Force combined—a representation of 2.7 percent. The Royal Canadian Navy has the highest percentage of Indigenous Peoples at 3.0 percent, the Canadian Army has a representation of 2.8 percent, and the Royal Canadian Air Force is at 2.3 percent.