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A Student’s Perspective of a Unique Indigenous Program

From the left: OCdt Justine Corbeil, Samson Collins, Mskwoka Mcgregor, Naval Cadet Jacob Byrne and OCdt Aditya Singh in front of the National Aboriginal Veterans’ Monument in Ottawa on Remembrance Day 2022 to honor past and present Indigenous CAF members./ L’Élof Mskwoka Mcgregor, l’Aspm Jacob Byrne et l’Élof Aditya Singh devant le Monument aux anciens combattants autochtones, à Ottawa, le jour du Souvenir 2022, en l’honneur des membres autochtones des FAC d’hier et d’aujourd’hui.

Officer Cadet (OCdt) Mskwoka Mcgregor from the First Nations community of Whitefish River First Nation, Ont., along with nine other Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit Peoples from across Canada, are on the path to become officers in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) – thanks to the existence of the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year (ALOY) run at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in Kingston, Ont.

ALOY is a unique one-year program, conducted at the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC), designed to provide Indigenous students with individual, group, and cultural experiences that help build their indigenous self-identity, leadership, and life skills.

“ALOY and RMC strive for diversity that represents all of Canada in terms of equality and inclusivity,” said OCdt Mcgregor, one of the over 200 ALOY students who attended this program at RMC since it first started in 2008. “ALOY is a year filled with challenges but has had a lasting and positive experience since I began here in August 2022.”

ALOY candidates are not restricted to pursue studies at RMC after successfully completing the one-year program conducted on the traditional homelands of the Hodinöhsö:ni, Anishinaabek, and Huron-Wendat Peoples.

OCdt Mskwoka Mcgregor at the ALOY badging ceremony in August 2022.

“They may pursue civilian pathways into post-secondary, future CAF journey opportunities and civilian pathways after the opportunity year,” explained OCdt Mcgregor.

“Along the way, ALOY students develop lasting relationships with mentors, tutors, elders, and our teammates in the program, while also developing their daily confidence in their ability to lead on a daily basis.”

“The ALOY program is a critical component for the Department of National Defence (DND) and the CAF to continue strengthening the relationship with Indigenous Peoples,” said Commodore Josée Kurtz, Commandant of RMC. “Our military will only be strengthened by the unique perspectives of our Indigenous members. The unique perspectives and lived experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Métis greatly enrich our military ethos.”

“The ALOY program benefits our youth, country, and communities,” added OCdt Mcgregor. “Cadets studying at RMC have a common goal to develop their abilities in leadership, athletics, military training, academics, and bilingualism.”

First offered at RMC in 2008, 216 ALOY cadets have attended the program since then. To date, 32 have decided to serve their country as officers, and 30 as non-commissioned members.

This year, 13 ALOY students have applied and continue studies under the Regular Officer Training Plan in a degree program to become officers of the CAF.

Source: The Maple Leaf