Raven military graduates spread their wings

49 Canadian aboriginal youth graduate from military training program at CFB Esquimalt

Training officers and graduates of the 2011 Raven program are framed by a small inukshuk as they stand on the Work Point parade square during graduation ceremonies.

At 17 years old, Stephanie Cameron-Johnson never considered herself a morning person.

But all the times the Langford resident had to wake up at 4:50 a.m. this summer were well worth the chance to make new friends, go to sea and fire a gun.

She graduated with 48 other aboriginal youth last Thursday from the military’s seven-week Raven Aboriginal Youth Initiative, open to aboriginals throughout Canada who are 16 to 29 years old.

“You really had to push yourself,” she said, adding the cadets worked together to make it through the early mornings and intense training regimen. “You really need your teammates. You can’t do it by yourself.”

The program, which exposes young aboriginals to life in the military, is the reason Cameron-Johnson is considering a career in the Canadian Forces.

“It was like the best summer I ever had,” she said.

The course is about changing young lives, Lt.-Gov. Steven Point told the crowd.

“Aboriginal people have come through a tremendously difficult time over the last 150 years, but every generation of aboriginal men and women have stepped forward and veterans are here today to attest to that.”

Some of the aboriginal veterans at the ceremony fought in the Second World War and the Korean War.

“I’ve been in the Korean War,” said Langford resident Ken Himes, proudly wearing a chest full of medals. “Not many people know about it.”

Many Canadians aren’t aware that aboriginals also served their country, said Alex Maurice, president of the National Aboriginal Veterans Association.

“A lot of the old veterans were quiet about it,” he said. “They put the medals in their pockets.”

Cameron-Johnson is a proud addition to that aboriginal lineage in the military, and quickly rhymes off the ranks of military personnel standing nearby.

“You’re a master seaman,” she excitedly told one man. “I never knew that before.”

emccracken@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Saanich ranked third for participation in FortisBC energy-efficient upgrades program

800 older apartment buildings in B.C. have received upgrades since 2015

Oak Bay hydro box wrap captures community history

Image shows what early homestead on The Avenue looked like

Sooke Mounties still searching for suspect weeks after sexual assault

RCMP have been unable to identify any suspects

Climate change protest takes place in Victoria during rush hour

Extinction Rebellion group targets local media with protest on Douglas Street

POLL: Do you support CUPE workers in their dispute with School District 63?

SD63 schools to remain closed as strike continues Tuesday

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 12

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty of one count of sexual assault

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

Woman arrested after assaulting B.C. Nurse

RCMP responded to approximately 98 calls for service during the past week (Nov. 6 to Nov. 12)

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

B.C. forest industry trade mission finding new markets in China

Diplomatic tensions eased, minister Doug Donaldson says

Most Read