Thirty-three Indigenous Youth Graduate from the Black Bear Program

Oromocto, New Brunswick — Thirty-three Indigenous youth graduated today from the Black Bear program. Black Bear is a unique summer employment program that combines Indigenous culture and teachings with military training.

The following candidates received awards during the parade:

  • Top Candidate: Private Patrick Leblanc
  • Top Shot: Private Raeann Rivers
  • Most Improved: Private Jordan Fontaine

Every year, the Black Bear program offers Indigenous youth a chance to develop valuable skills such as self-confidence, self-discipline, time management, and teamwork: all this within a military context that respects and encourages Indigenous cultures.


“I congratulate the Black Bear class of 2017 for successfully completing their training. This annual summer program not only imparts valuable military training and skills to youth, it also assists 5th Canadian Division to connect with our vital Indigenous communities from many regions of our great nation. It is truly an endeavor that benefits all involved and is a source of considerable pride for myself and all members of 5th Canadian Division.”

Brigadier-General D.A. Macaulay, Commander 5th Canadian Division

“The Black Bear program is an incredible opportunity for this group of candidates from all over Canada to experience the Canadian Armed Forces lifestyle. This unique training experience has imparted them with memories and invaluable life skills. I’m proud to host this national program at 5th Canadian Division Training Centre and proud of the graduates and their instructors. I also express my sincere gratitude to local Indigenous communities which have been supportive of the program.”

Lieutenant-Colonel E.G. MacEachern, Commanding Officer 5th Canadian Division Training Centre

Quick Facts

  • In addition to Black Bear, the Canadian Armed Forces offers other Indigenous youth leadership programs, such as the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year, the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program, and Aboriginal Summer Training Programs Bold Eagle, Eagle’s Nest, and Raven.
  • Participants undergo the Primary Reserve Basic Military Training Course and are taught and evaluated by experienced military instructors in areas such as:
    • Physical fitness;
    • Weapons handling;
    • Military knowledge;
    • Map and compass navigation;
    • First aid; and
    • Leadership.
  • The program includes a three-day Indigenous culture camp taught by elders from diverse communities, as well as visits to a local sweat lodge and Pow Wows. Candidates learn about the traditions of the many different Indigenous communities throughout Canada.
  • For the duration of the course, candidates hold the rank of “Private”. However, after successfully completing the Black Bear Program, graduates can apply to join the Canadian Armed Forces, or take the skills they have acquired with them into their future civilian careers.
  • The application deadline for Black Bear is the end of April. For more information on Indigenous Summer programs and opportunities visit:

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Source: National Defence