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Black Bear Program offers indigenous youth military training, culture teachings

Captain Matthew Graham, coordinator for the Black Bear Program, speaks to those in attendance for an information session at the Qalipu Community Room in Corner Brook on Wednesday night.
Captain Matthew Graham, coordinator for the Black Bear Program, speaks to those in attendance for an information session at the Qalipu Community Room in Corner Brook on Wednesday night. - Chris Quigley

Calvin Cassell always knew what he wanted to do, he just wasn’t sure how he was going to go about doing it.

The 18-year-old native of Roddickton was one of about a dozen people in attendance at the Qalipu Community Room on Wednesday night for an information session on the Black Bear Program for indigenous youth, a joint venture of the Qalipu First Nation and the Canadian Armed Forces.

“Ever since I was young, I always wanted to join the military and I thought this would be a great opportunity to get a start and figure out what I was doing,” Cassell said after the session.

The summer employment program combines indigenous culture and teachings with basic military training. Lasting six weeks, from early July to mid-August, it takes place at the 5th Canadian Division Training Centre in Oromocto, N.B.

Participants graduate with basic military training, get paid approximately $4,200, have meals and accommodations provided, and transportation to and from Oromocto covered.

Following completion, participants may choose to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces on a full or part-time basis, after successful completion of the Canadian Armed Forces Aptitude Test.

Getting his foot in the door of the armed forces wasn’t the only attraction for Cassell, as the indigenous teachings are also something he has been seeking.

“I like getting to know more about my culture because I am part of this culture and I have no idea about it, really,” he said.

He was serious enough to fill out an application and hand it in. He wasn’t sure exactly what happens next, but said he was told he would hear back before too long.

Information sessions were already held in Stephenville on Monday and St. George’s on Tuesday, with another coming today in Gander and tonight in Grand Falls-Windsor.

For more information about the program, or to apply directly, visit https://bit.ly/2uohtuz.

The deadline to apply is April 30.

Cassell
Cassell

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