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Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year wraps up at Royal Military College of Canada

A year-long program aimed at developing leaders for Aboriginal communities and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) concluded on Friday, June 17 with an official ceremony at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMCC) in Kingston.

The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) is an academic preparatory entry program and leadership development opportunity unique to the CAF. Applicants to the program are enrolled in the CAF for one year as Officer Cadets and receive paid tuition and books at RMCC

“Diversity is a cornerstone of today’s Canadian Armed Forces, which is why I am so proud that programs like the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year exist. I offer my heartfelt congratulations to those who have succeeded in the ALOY program and look forward to hearing of participants’ future successes,” said Harjit Sajjan, Minister of National Defence.

The ALOY program focuses on academics, military skills, leadership, athletics and cultural awareness. The year-long program culminates in a 107 km journey by canoe down the Rideau Canal, testing the skills the Officer Cadets have learned throughout the year.

During the course of the year, the cadets also took part in a veterans parade and ceremony in Ohsweken First Nations; Remembrance Day ceremonies in Ottawa; a sweat lodge hosted by a First Nations Elder; an exercise with the Canadian Rangers in Yellowknife, NWT; and the Governor General’s Military Tattoo.

“The ALOY program is designed to be challenging, both personally and collectively. Each of these young people has faced and overcome those challenges, and in doing so, they have grown into leaders able to serve their communities. They should be proud of the critical accomplishment which they have achieved today,” stated General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff.

Out of the 12 cadets who took part this year, nine intend to join the CAF.

“The Canadian Armed Forces is committed to making Aboriginal people an integral part of our Defence Team. The collective success of these exemplary young women and men is a testament to their determination and hard work over the past year. They will take what they have learned here with them as they move ahead into bright futures,” said Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander Canadian Army and Defence Team Champion for Aboriginal Peoples.

Since the inception of the program in 2008, 143 Aboriginal students have attended the ALOY program.

“ALOY is an outstanding academic preparatory entry program and leadership development opportunity unique to the Canadian Armed Forces. We have had 143 Aboriginal students enter the program at the Royal Military College of Canada since 2008 and this year, nine of 12 ALOY cadets will be continuing their careers with the Canadian Armed Forces. They will all be honoured today for their commitment and successful completion of the program. We are proud of them,” said Major-General Éric Tremblay, Commander Military Personnel Generation.

Featured image: Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander Canadian Army, visits the students on the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario on December 2, 2014. Photo by: MCpl Kurt Visser, Directorate of Army Public Affairs

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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