Six members of the Cree Nation were among the 25 Aboriginal candidates who graduated from the three-week Canadian Armed Forces Pre-Recruit Training Course (PRTC) on Friday, September 22, at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean, Que. Richard and Jonathan Cheezo of Eastmain, Willard Hester and Stephanie Jonah of Waskaganish, Liette Neacappo of Chisasibi, and Isaac Petagumskum of Whapmagoostui successfully completed the three-week PRTC.

In fact, both Stephanie Jonah and Isaac Petagumskum have enrolled as members of the CF, along with seven other coursemates, during the graduation ceremony.

Jonah will join the navy as a Steward, and Petagumskum will join the army as an Infantry Soldier.

Lieutenant-General Christian Couture, Assistant Deputy Minister Human Resources (Military) and reviewing officer at the PRTC graduation parade congratulated the graduates and said “You represent the future of the Canadian Forces…you should be very, very proud of what you have accomplished.”

Jonah, Petagumskum and most of the other candidates who enrolled at the PRTC graduation parade will start the Basic Recruit Training course at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean, Quebec, on October 10.

The PRTC is part of the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program (CFAEP), a program offered to Aboriginal persons across Canada to give them the opportunity to explore military careers before making a commitment to join the CF. Richard Cheezo agreed this course was a good way to start. He said “I always wanted to find out what the army was like. I wanted to see if I could succeed and test my limits.

I guess I was also looking for a new challenge in life.”

The course proved to be challenging, exciting and revealing, as the students learned about themselves, teamwork and the possibility of joining the Canadian Armed Forces. Richard Cheezo said that he is thinking of going back to take basic training next year and making the Armed Forces his career.

The PRTC provides instruction in basic military skills (uniform and equipment maintenance, rank structure, drill and topography), introduction to CF policies, first aid, Aboriginal history, life skills, stress management, physical fitness and other areas. “It was great,” said Johnathon Cheezo. “I feel good about myself and I proved that I can accomplish anything if I put my mind to it.” The course also provides a three-week transition period to allow the Aboriginal candidates to adapt from their culture and community to the new, and significantly different, military culture. Johnathon Cheezo said that as a youth he learnt many things and lived Tim Allan’s words when Allan said “never give up, never surrender.”

If your interested in seeing what the Armed Forces is all about or want more information contact Lieutenant Vance White, Canadian Forces Recruiting Group Public Affairs Officer, at (705) 424-1200 ext. 2313.