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Aboriginal Programs

First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples tackle some of the most challenging and rewarding jobs in the Forces. They are part of dynamic teams of skilled professionals and leaders. 

Many Aboriginal people have taken advantage of the education and training opportunities that the Forces offer, like paid college and university programs. As a result, they have become exceptional leaders in every field of the Forces, from engineers and physiotherapists, to technicians and systems specialists.

A career in the Forces is more than just a job. It is an opportunity to make a difference in Canada and in other parts of the world. It is a chance to be a part of a history of service and a community of people dedicated to preserving peace and security.

We work with Aboriginal communities, leaders and veterans to raise awareness of all a military career has to offer. Through our “CF Experience” programs, you will work and train with the Forces for a specific period of time, and experience the lifestyle, without the commitment to joining the Forces.

The Forces offers three experience programs for Aboriginal Peoples :

  • Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year
  • Summer Training Programs
  • Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program

For information about these programs, please click on the PROGRAMS tab above.

Please note: participants in these programs are not obligated to join the Forces.

Our “CF Experience” programs introduce you to the type of work we do, the way we train and how we live, without joining the Forces for your whole career. At the end of the program, you may choose to apply to the Forces. You will gain the leadership, work skills, and dedication to be successful in whatever path you choose. 

There are specific conditions for applying to each of the programs. However, for all of the programs you MUST:

  • Be an Aboriginal Person (First Nation(s) Status or Non-Status, Métis or Inuit);
  • Be a Canadian citizen;
  • Be at least 17 years of age (with parental/guardian consent) or older;
  • Must have completed Grade10 or Quebec Secondaire IV;
  • Meet the Forces common enrolment medical standard;
  • Note: you can apply to and attend the Raven, Bold Eagle and Black Bear programs at age 16 provided you are in school full time.

All paper applications must be sent to the nearest Recruiting Centre to where the applicant lives. The closest Recruiting Centre can be found by using the “Find a Recruiter” tab on the Forces.ca website, under “Canadian Armed Forces Jobs” tab.

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The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunities Year (ALOY) gives you a highly positive, productive, one-year educational and leadership experience through the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. The ALOY program includes sports, field trips, leadership development, military training, cultural support activities, and individual learning plans. Through these learning plans, you take part in individual and small group tutorials for pre-university (non-credit) and first-year university courses. 

As part of the program, you are enrolled in the Forces for one year as an Officer Cadet and receive free tuition and books at RMC. You may request to leave the program at any point in the year. At the end of the year, you may apply to continue at RMC in a degree program through either the Regular Officer Training Program or the Reserve Entry Training Plan.

To apply for the ALOY program you must have completed at least Grade 12 or Secondaire V, or have obtained your GED. Applications are due February 15 so that all the arrangements can be made for the beginning of the school year in September. In addition to filling out the online application, you must also submit the ALOY enrolment form.

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The Forces offers three Summer Training Programs that combine military lifestyle with cultural awareness: Bold Eagle, Raven and Black Bear. These six-week long programs give you a taste of military training with the option - but no commitment - to join the Forces. The training is based on the Army Reserve Basic Military Qualification and is taught by military instructors. Subjects include General Military Knowledge, Weapons Handling, Navigation, First Aid, Drill, and Survival Skills.

All three Summer Training Programs begin with a Culture Camp. The camp is designed to ease the transition from civilian to military lifestyle, and focuses on common spiritual beliefs. All Culture Camps are conducted by Elders of different First Nations and Aboriginal groups. 

  BOLD EAGLE is open to Aboriginal Peoples living in Western Canada or Northwestern Ontario. Participants will train in Wainwright, Alberta

  RAVEN is the Navy’s summer program for Aboriginal Peoples from across Canada. Participants train in Esquimalt, British Columbia

  BLACK BEAR is an Army training program for Aboriginal Peoples from across Canada that takes place in Oromocto, New Brunswick.

We arrange your travel to and from the program, living accommodations, food, clothing and all equipment. While you are in the program you are temporarily a Forces member and are paid around $3,500 for completing the full six weeks.

To qualify for the summer training programs, you must have completed at least Grade 10 (Sec IV in Quebec). Applications are due by the end of March so that all the arrangements can be made for the beginning of the programs in July. When filling out the online application, indicate the Summer Training Program you are interested in under “Program Choices.”

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The Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program is a special three-week program for Aboriginal Peoples who are considering a career in the Forces. During the program, you get hands-on experience with military training, careers, and lifestyle with no obligation to join the Forces. At the end of the program, you receive $1,200 for completing the program and a certificate of military achievement.

You will learn about the long and proud history of Aboriginal Peoples in Canada’s military and take part in exercises similar to Basic Training, such as morning inspections, daily physical fitness and sports, navigation with compass and maps, basic weapons training and military drill. You will also try living in field conditions. Civilian Aboriginal counselors are on staff and available to assist with the transition to military life.

The course takes place at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St Jean, Quebec and at Canadian Forces Base Halifax, Nova Scotia . We provide transportation to and from the training centre, living accommodations, food, clothing and all equipment for the course. At the end of the course, if you choose to join the Forces, you return home until the next available Basic Training course starts.

You may apply to the CF Aboriginal Entry Program at any time during the year. When filling out the online application, indicate you are interested in CFAEP under “Program Choices.”

Each time there has been a need, Canada’s Aboriginal soldiers have overcome cultural challenges and made impressive sacrifices and contributions to restore world peace. Aboriginal peoples were valuable allies to the British during the American Revolution of 1775, the War of 1812 and in South Africa during the Boer War. Thousands of Aboriginal men and women served during both World Wars, the Korean War and Gulf War.

In WWI, many became snipers or reconnaissance scouts, drawing upon traditional hunting and military skills, including Inuit sniper John Shiwak, and Ojibway snipers Johnson Paudash and Francis Pegahmagabow. Pegahmagabow was also highly decorated for bravery and selflessness in battle. Many won citations for their bravery, including Tommy Prince whose daring repair of a phone wire behind enemy lines, in plain view of the enemy in the midst of a battle, led to him becoming the most highly decorated First Nations soldier in the Canadian Forces. He received numerous citations and medals over his career for acts of bravery in both WWII and the Korean War. Mary Greyeyes-Reid paved the way for generations of Aboriginal women to serve Canada by becoming the first Aboriginal woman to join the Canadian Forces in 1942. By the end of WWII, 25 Aboriginal women had served in the women’s divisions of the Army, Navy and Air Force.

A national monument was unveiled on National Aboriginal Day, June 21, 2001 to recognize the sacrifices and contributions of Aboriginal Veterans. It stands in downtown Ottawa, steps from the National War Memorial. Reflecting traditional beliefs about honour, duty, and harmony with the environment, the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument is made of bronze and stone and was designed by First Nations artist Lloyd Pinay. At the centre of the monument, two human figures holding weapons and two holding spiritual items represent various Aboriginal groups. They convey a sense of balance, implying that a desire for peace often lies at the root of war. The four animals surrounding them - the wolf, grizzly, buffalo and elk - represent spirit guides. A golden eagle, with wings outstretched, perches above the animal and human figures. A messenger between the Creator and humans, the eagle embodies the spirit of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.