By Capt Ian McIntyre
Candidates and staff from this year’s Black Bear course had the opportunity to celebrate Indigenous culture at the Listuguj Annual Traditional Gathering in Quebec, August 6th, 2022.
Hosted by the Listuguj Mi’gmaq Government, the 30 year old event offers Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike a chance to meet as one community, dance, sing, drum and feast for 4 days on the banks of the Richibucto River.
“What really makes the Black Bear course unique is that it combines Indigenous culture and Army training,” said Captain Matthew Graham, the Indigenous Program Coordinator for the 5th Canadian Division Training Centre located at Base Gagetown in New Brunswick. “We see candidates of all ages from across Canada come here for 6 weeks every summer to help build their self-confidence, sense of teamwork, time-management skills, and fitness. But also, this is an opportunity to learn about and celebrate their culture.”
The Listuguj Pow Wow is a prime opportunity for these newly enrolled Canadian Armed Forces members to bring all of the lessons learned together and prove, not only to their community, but to themselves what they are capable of accomplishing given the opportunity.
“It’s hard to say what the best part of Black Bear has been but the Pow Wow was amazing,” said Private Toney-Francis, the winner of the Top Candidate award. “Everything from the people to the music to the food – Indian tacos are delicious – was perfect. I can’t wait to start my new job in the Regular Force.”
The candidates participated in traditional dances, offered tobacco to the Sacred Fire, and served meals to approximately 500 elders and attendees at the Feast, which consisted of moose meat, fiddleheads, and salmon that was fresh out of the water.
Anyone interested in the Black Bear program is encouraged to contact the Program Coordinator or Recruiters in their local area to find out more or to apply. Further details can be found at this link: https://Canada.ca/en/army/services/black-bear.html or by contacting the following:
5th Canadian Division Indigenous Program Coordinator: Captain Matthew Graham
Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre – Online Application: https://forces.ca/en/apply-now/
Email: Contact a recruiter near you: https://forces.ca/en/find-a-recruiting-centre/
You can also request to have Capt Graham come to your community or organization to give a presentation about the program. Please send a detailed email request for consideration to BlackBear@forces.gc.ca.