Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year – Interview

Sgt. Curtis White is the program staff of the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) at CFB Kingston. He is also the National Military Chair of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG). Before joining the staff of the ALOY program, he served as a Canadian Forces recruiter.

Interview by E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC ‘03)

e-veritas: What is the purpose of the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) program?

Sgt. White: The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity is a Canadian Forces educational program that was offered at the Royal Military College of Canada commencing in August 2008. The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year is a one year program that will be offered to Aboriginal Canadians. It will provide a highly positive, productive and preparatory educational leadership experience, including sports, field trips, leadership development and military training, as well as an academic program and cultural support activities. The young men and women in the program are expected to become role models for others in their communities.

e-veritas: What do you tell potential candidates about the Royal Military College of Canada?

Sgt. White: The Royal Military College is a national university for educating and developing leaders committed to serving Canada and Canadians. A Royal Military College education is both demanding and rewarding. It consists of four key components – academics, leadership, athletics, and bilingualism – that together provide Royal Military College graduates with the knowledge and skills needed to become Canada’s next generation of leaders and innovators.

e-veritas: What do you tell potential candidates about the contribution of Aboriginal peoples to the Canadian Forces?

Sgt. White: Aboriginal People have served in the Canadian Forces with great honour and distinction throughout our history. Today, this proud tradition of service continues at home in Canada and around the world. The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year program is a new opportunity for Aboriginal Canadians to continue this proud tradition of service while receiving first-class education and leadership training at Royal Military College.

e-veritas: What are the terms of the ALOY program?

Sgt. White: Applicants must: be at least 17 years of age (with parental/guardian consent) or older; have completed at least Grade 12, Secondary 5, or the GED in the current academic year; be physically and medically fit; and be an Aboriginal Canadian. Aboriginal candidates are enrolled in the Canadian Forces for a period of one year and receive full subsidization at RMC. The candidates are paid as an Officer Cadet and receive free tuition and issue of textbooks and uniforms. Rations and Quarters are deducted from their pay.

e-veritas: What is the relationship between the ALOY program at the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP) or Reserve Entry Training Plan (RETP)?

Sgt. White: Provided they meet the academic requirements candidates will be given the opportunity to apply to continue at RMC in a degree program and will be converted to service under the terms of the Regular Officer Training Program (ROTP). Alternately, some participants may be offered the opportunity to continue at RMC under the Reserve Entry Training Plan (RETP). Some graduates may be offered the opportunity to continue a military career in another entry program. Alternatively, participants may opt to cease participation and return to their community without further obligation, either during the program or after completing Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year.

e-veritas: Based on an assessment of academic attainment, ALOY candidates are provided the opportunity to develop an individual learning plan

Sgt. White: Yes. Based on an assessment of academic attainment, Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year participants will be provided with the opportunity to develop an individual learning plan comprised of non-credit preparatory courses and/or first year university courses as listed in the Royal Military College calendar. Second Language Training may also be available. The ALOY program will include sports, field trips, leadership development, military training and cultural support activities. Cultural support activities will be offered in partnership with centres in the Kingston area that support Aboriginal post-secondary students at Queen’s University. After completion of the academic year (Sep-May) there will be a Leadership practicum.

e-veritas: Are cultural support activities offered?

Sgt. White: Yes. At RMC, cultural support activities are offered in partnership with centres in the Kingston, Ontario area that support Aboriginal post-secondary students at Queen’s University. Weekly Men’s and Women’s groups led by elders to help students learn about there culture.

e-veritas: Where can we go for further information?

Sgt. White: We believe that the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year will be of interest to many young Aboriginals. I encourage you to go the recruiting web site www.forces.ca or contact a recruiter toll-free at 1-800-856-8488 for further information on this exciting new programme. For more information on ALOY, follow this link. http://www.rmc.ca/news_avis/0712aloy_e.html

e-Veritas: Describe the marketing of ALOY last year in comparison to what is now happening for ALOY today.

Sgt. White: The ALOY program was announced at the Aboriginal Contributions to the Canadian Forces Conference at RMC in 2006. Word went out about the ALOY program at relatively short notice. Many of the 22 candidates in the first year of ALOY read the blurb about the ALOY program on the CF website or heard about the program by word of mouth. Many of the candidates are athletes who have competed or volunteered with the North American Indigenous Games, which gathers the North American Aboriginal communities together to celebrate, share and teach their customs and traditions through sporting and cultural events. This year, there was more time and opportunities to get the word out to the Aboriginal media and RF recruiters, who are familiar with related CF Aboriginal programs including Bold Eagle, Raven and the CF Aboriginal Entry Program. The response from the Aboriginal community including the National Aboriginal Veteran’s Association has been positive. Some applicants may have family members who served in the forces and/or they may have some prior experience with the Canadian Forces through Cadets Canada or the Junior Ranger program. We expect that candidates may hear about the ALOY program from various sources including CF recruiters, RMC liaison officers, members of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group and alumni. The ALOY staff are available to answer questions.

e-Veritas: Do you have any practical tips to share?

Sgt. White: Recruiting involves educating and making people aware the Canadian Forces have opportunities where Aboriginal people might fit. Increasing Aboriginal recruitment and retention and aid in integration are challenges, but it’s necessary to make the Canadian Forces representative of the communities we serve. Advertise opportunities in the Aboriginal Media e.g. Windspeaker (newspaper), Aboriginal Voices Radio, and Aboriginal Peoples’ Television Network (APTN).

e-Veritas: Since you have been a staff for the ALOY program, what have been your favourite special events?

Sgt. White: During the Silver Lake Powwow, we introduced the 22 candidates by name and nation to the Algonquin people. I also enjoyed giving a presentation on the ALOY program at a RMC club luncheon in Kingston.

One Comment

  • Keven Kanten

    December 11, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    I must say this is interesting from the point of view of someone working in marketing in Windspeaker. The Military has always been resistant to discussing more effective communication efforts using Aboriginal media and has relied on their own assessments. I can confirm that Sgt. White has some work ahead of him in getting DND to follow his own advice and target Aboriginal media effectively.
    On the end of getting editorial, again, Aboriginal media is different than mainstream as they have extremely limited funds and suffer from a lack of staff and pages so for the military to “expect” Aboriginal media will cover their activities, they may fall victim to seeing that coverage go by the wayside because other critical news is happening more frequently but the pages Aboriginal media has is getting smaller. Especially with national advertisers cutting their “fringe marketing budgets”. Aboriginal media is the first to suffer the financial crunch of the recession. And… Aboriginal media, is not a recipient of gov’t funds to run their business…. so…
    DND can call me anytime to plan their campaigns.
    1-800-661-5469 ext. 243.
    (I’d love to help them reach the audience they want to reach.)