Aboriginal Entry Program participants fight simulated flood

Image Gallery

Navy News / May 21, 2019

By Ryan Melanson

Participant Cassidy Carlson, from La Ronge, Saskatchewan, said she wasn’t afraid to get a little wet and deal with a frantic damage control scenario at Damage Control Training Facility (DCTF) Kootenay for an introduction to the way sailors fight flooding on a ship at sea.

“It’s intense. That’s what we’re here for,” she said, adding that she enjoyed the hands-on parts of the experience.

“The program has really opened things up and given me a better view of the different jobs I might be able to do. I’m interested in anything that involves serving and helping people.”

DCTF Kootenay conducts crucial training that all sailors must complete before being trusted as a member of a ship’s company.

The recruits entered the simulated flood tank to experience one aspect of that training.

Instructors said the group did a good job by following the instructions they were given, working together and staying calm as the water in the simulated ship space slowly rose up past their waists.

They emerged from the tank soaking wet and tired from the exercise, but they were all smiles.

“The point isn’t to make it easy,” said Lieutenant (Navy) Daniel Chamberlain, the acting Division Commander during the visit.

“If they come away feeling like they worked hard and accomplished something, that’s what we want.”

A group of 15 Indigenous youth from across the country have been in Halifax for the past three weeks getting a crash course in life as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

The Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal Entry Program (CFAEP) is an intensive three week recruiting course for Indigenous Canadians that offers hands-on military experience in an open-ended way. It opens the path to joining the CAF in the Regular or Reserve Force upon completion, but it’s not a requirement.

“The program is designed to give these Indigenous Canadians an opportunity to understand the different Canadian Armed Forces occupations available under all three elements,” said Petty Officer First Class (PO1) Joe Dickie, an instructor with the program.

In addition to the introduction to the CAF lifestyle through things like tours, exercises, drill, day sails and meeting with CAF members of various ranks and trades, the program also emphasizes the CAF’s push to be an inclusive employer. Instructors and mentors stress that individuals can lead a successful CAF career while embracing their Indigenous culture and identity.

“We want to have a diverse force that represents all Canadians and this is part of working toward that,” PO1 Dickie said.

The CFAEP participants finished up the program with a graduation ceremony on May 17. It’s expected that some will continue on to Basic Military Qualification, while others will return to civilian life with a better understanding of opportunities available in the CAF. All who complete the program receive pay of $1,200 and a Certificate of Military Achievement.

Whatever comes next, Carlson said she’s had an unforgettable experience, and made friendships with her peers and mentors that are sure to continue beyond the program.

“We’ve become like a family. We’ve grown so much closer than I thought we would in this short time.”

Article courtesy of Trident newspaper