RMC welcomes students of Indigenous heritage

A traditional Smudge ceremony at RMC
Elder Bernard Nelson of the Eabametoong First Nation, holds a small crucible of smoking herbs as one of this year’s Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) members participates in a traditional Smudge ceremony under the tipi on the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) campus on August 16. Elder Nelson has served as the RMC ALOY elder for the past 10 years, and has enjoyed watching participants develop leadership skills and learn about their spirituality during the program. Photo: DND

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The newest members of the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunities Year (ALOY) program arrived at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) on August 13, 2018.

ALOY is a one-year program designed to provide students of Indigenous heritage with individual, group, and cultural experiences that will help build leadership and life skills. It exposes the students to the Canadian military, and helps them develop a variety of skill sets, including accreditation for further post-secondary education.

This year, 27 candidates are participating in the program, the largest number since the program started 11 years ago.

Alan Bushey, 21, from Barrie, Ontario, said he decided to join the program because he wanted to better his secondary school grades and have the chance to attend university.

“I hope to gain leadership skills, to challenge myself, and to open more doorways for what I want to do in my life,” he said after the first two days of the program. “It’s been quite a shock, but I’m easing into it and I feel I’m adapting very well. I’m excited for what the year has to bring.”

The ALOY program includes sports, field trips, leadership development, military training, cultural support activities and individual learning plans. Through these learning plans, participants take part in individual and small-group tutorials for pre-university (non-credit) and first-year university courses.

As part of the program, participants enrol in the Canadian Armed Forces for one year as an Officer Cadet and receive free tuition and books. They may request to leave the program at any time. If they complete the year, they can apply to continue at RMC in a degree program through the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP).

Sixteen participants from last year’s ALOY program were accepted into the ROTP to pursue post-secondary studies this year at RMC.

Officer Cadet Gesse-Lea Roberts, who is now beginning her Bachelor of Arts studies at RMC, said the ALOY program was key to her decision to return.

“It was my first experience with the military so I learned a lot about how you have to work as a team,” said Officer Cadet Roberts. “I learned about my culture and other people’s cultures, which is really important to work with people.”

Col Chris Ayotte, the Director of Cadets at RMC, sees this sharing of cultures as a central benefit of the program.

“We all benefit from sharing the unique perspectives of the individuals who accept the challenge of participating in the ALOY program each year,” said Col Ayotte. “Thanks to their contribution, everyone at this historic institution, and every one of our officer cadets who will one day be leaders in the Canadian Armed Forces, benefits from a gained understanding of cultural, spiritual, and traditional identities of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

To apply for the ALOY program, participants must have completed at least Grade 12 (Secondaire 5 in Quebec), or have obtained their GED.

For more information, please visit the ALOY program web page.

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