Graduation Day for RAVEN recruits

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By A/SLt S. L. Delaney, MARPAC PA

It was the best of military splendour, with a nod to Aboriginal culture, at the RAVEN graduation on August 14.

More than 120 family, friends and guests looked on as 24 Aboriginal recruits earned their Ordinary Seaman rank after completing their basic military qualification this summer. Some parents travelled from as far as Ontario to witness this milestone in their child’s life.

The RAVEN Indigenous Youth Program is a transformative six weeks where recruits aged 16 to 21 learn basic military skills, teamwork and leadership and share elements from their respective First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

The National Band of the Naval Reserve primed the audience with a diverse set of tunes as the graduates prepared to march onto the parade square. Five Métis students were presented waist sashes – a symbol of pride and nationhood – just before the parade.

A teepee was set up at the side of the Work Point parade square with two Aboriginal drummers and two dancers in full regalia performing for the audience. At the final beat of the drum the graduating platoon marched on to the parade square to face their guests.

They displayed poise and unity in their drill movements, a testament to their training from Naval Fleet School Pacific instructors.

Rear-Admiral Bob Auchterlonie, Commander of Maritime Forces Pacific, inspected the platoon and addressed each graduate. As the National Band of the Naval Reserve played the ethereal theme song from Band of Brothers, a doe and her fawn walked quietly across the parade square.

Raven’s spiritual advisor and Elder, Elmer George from the Songhees Nation shared an Aboriginal blessing, and Padre Lieutenant (Naval) Lara-Ann Bowditch led the Naval Prayer. Awards and presentations were presented by RAdm Auchterlonie, who then addressed the parade.

The graduates were then dismissed by their Platoon Commander and classmate, Ordinary Seaman Konnor Issaluk. After six weeks of working and learning together, they are returning to their communities with new skills, new confidence and a new network of friends and mentors to support them on whatever path they choose.

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