Ravens have something to crow about

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Navy News / August 11, 2021

The Raven Program is back in 2021 after a one-year shutdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The program run by Naval Fleet School Pacific blends Indigenous cultures and techniques with military training.

Forty-five participants have been on site at Work Point since July 8. The program began with a four-day Culture Camp, where the recruits learned about Canada’s Métis, First Nations and Inuit cultures before moving on to Basic Military Qualification training.

We spoke with three of the participants to find out about their experience at Raven.

“My favourite aspect of Raven is also what is most difficult for me. No matter how good I feel I have done at something, the staff will always push me and the rest of the platoon to do better,” said Sailor 3rd Class (S3) Elijah Gilmore of Six Nations, Onkwehonwe.

“I joined the Raven program to learn about the forces, but I am also learning about myself and what it means to work as a unit, which is something I am not accustomed to.”

S3 Hope Hakkarainen of the Gitxsan Nation heard about the program through a family member that had previously applied to the program. She decided to join because she wanted to try something different and make lifelong memories.

“My mom used to be in the military and joined when she was working as a truck driver. Before she retired from the Royal Canadian Air Force she was working as an Avionic Technician. She fixed the Sea King helicopters before they were retired. I’m very proud of my mother because she joined the military at the age of 28 and served Canada for quite some time. I’m also proud of her because she’s always working hard and especially by taking care of my brothers and I,” said S3 Hakkarainen.

“I love her and my family very much but I also have another family now with all these amazing Ravens. We are planning on keeping in touch with each other when the program concludes.”

For S3 Sarah Anne Mathew of the Kinew Métis, discovering the Raven program was happenstance while searching summer camps. While all promised the opportunity to spend time outdoors and provide new experiences, only Raven afforded S3 Mathew the chance to learn more about her culture and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

“The Raven program has improved my physical fitness, my confidence, and mental toughness. It has helped me believe I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. The Raven program has also given me an opportunity to improve my leadership abilities. I have learned to be a better teammate and realize the importance of teamwork to accomplish difficult tasks,” she explained.

“Before the Raven program I had little knowledge of what it meant to be in the Canadian Armed Forces, and specifically the navy. There are so many more trades and specialities that I am still learning about. This has completely broadened my mindset of things that I would like to do and how many different possibilities there are for jobs that include many different aspects of things I enjoy.”

This year’s program concludes on August 12. Upon completion, successful participants were given the option to continue their CAF journey as members of the Regular Force or the Primary Reserves.