Shakoia Antoine never doubted her decision to go into the military, wanting to do so as far back as childhood.
On Thursday, the Victoria resident took the first step toward her career when she was among the 30 graduates from a unique Canadian Forces program at CFB Esquimalt.
The six-week Raven program is a six week camp for young First Nation, Metis and Inuit adults. The training begins with a four-day culture camp that involves aboriginal history as well as life skills and traditional teachings. The following five weeks is basic military training for the army reserve.
For Antoine, 18, the course convinced her she was capable of a successful career in the military.
“It was really hard the first three weeks,” she said . “It got easier overtime and the last two weeks was a lot of fun.”
Antoine said the hardest part to grasp was working as a team. Once she figured that out, everything else fell into place.
Petty Officer (first class) Joesph Proctor, who has headed up the Raven program for six years, said the program is more than just teaching the participants military skills.
“This is a powerful life opportunity,” he said. “This provides them with life skills, and whether they continue in the military or not.
“For many, this is the first big challenge in their life.”
This year 38 recruits started the program and 30 graduated.
For Antoine the next step is to join the army reserves’ 11 Field Ambulance unit based in Saanich, while she attends Camosun College this fall. She eventually hopes to earn an engineering degree and join as a regular member of the Canadian Forces.
“I plan to make my career in the army,” she said proudly.