ARCHIVED - Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program

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Backgrounder / June 1, 2002 / Project number: BG - 02.027

The Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program (CFAEP) is a special remunerated recruiting program of 3 weeks that can lead to full-time Regular Force training and employment opportunities to qualified Aboriginal peoples.

The aim of the CFAEP is to ensure Aboriginal peoples interested in the military have the opportunity to explore military culture and careers before making the commitment to join the Canadian Forces (CF).

First Nations, Inuit and Métis make up 1.4 per cent, or 1,275 members, of the current CF (Regular and Reserve). Through the CFAEP and other recruiting efforts, the CF hopes to recruit and sustain aboriginal representation approximately three per cent, which would bring its Aboriginal membership in line with national workforce demographics.

The CFAEP demonstrates the CF commitment to attract and recruit qualified Aboriginal candidates.

Program Details

The CFAEP captures aspects of the Northern Native Entry Program (NNEP) - a 1971 initiative under which Aboriginal persons living north of the 60th parallel were recruited into the CF. The NNEP was placed on hold in 1999 pending a review to determine how best to improve its effectiveness.

The new CFAEP expands upon the NNEP by providing an improved Pre-Recruit Training Course (PRTC) which is conducted in two locations:

  • PRTC Yellowknife is designed to consider the unique experiences and concerns of Aboriginal persons living north of 60 degrees in most of Canada, north of 55 degrees in Quebec, and along the Labrador coast. The three-week course includes northern skill training, cross-cultural and military awareness sessions, and selection and applicant processing for PRTC Farnham, Que. This course will only run if there are enough candidates.

  • PRTC Farnham prepares Aboriginal candidates from south of 60 degrees as well as "north of 60" candidates selected from PRTC Yellowknife for Regular Force Basic Training in St-Jean, Que. During the three-week course, candidates will experience military life first-hand as they study military organization, rank structure, weapons skills, drill and participate in a physical fitness routine. PRTC Farnham is to be given September 2002.

The candidates selected for CFAEP will attend the PRTCs as civilians, with no obligation to join the CF, and will be paid a $1,200 bonus for completing each course.

As part of the program, the CF will cover transportation expenses to the training location(s) from the candidates' place of residence. Candidates withdrawing from either phase of PRTC training prior to completion may be required to fund return transportation costs to their place of residence.

Upon completion of PRTC Farnham, candidates will be able to apply to join the Regular Force and commence Basic Recruit Training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in St-Jean, Que.

In total, the CFAEP amounts to an investment of more than $800,000 annually for the recruiting and training programs undertaken . This is a substantial increase from the NNEP that had a budget of approximately $240,000 in 1998.

Planning for the CFAEP

The Aboriginal community has actively participated in the preparation of the CFAEP. Direct consultation with elders in Aboriginal communities gave a more complete understanding of the needs of Aboriginal candidates. Working together with various Aboriginal groups to ensure the program's effectiveness has earned Aboriginal support for the CFAEP and has provided greater acceptance of the CF within Aboriginal communities.

Recruiting for the CFAEP

CFAEP recruiting began in January utilizing various initiatives to attract candidates. Each Recruiting Centre is actively engaged in recruiting to the program. Instructors from the Canadian Rangers, part of the CF Reserve Force that provides a military presence in remote and isolated locations across Canada, are also assisting the recruiting drive.

In general Aboriginal peoples have a very strong sense of community, and strong ties must be forged between groups before any business can be conducted. The Canadian Rangers, of whom more than half are Aboriginal, provide recruiters a vital link to the local community. The Canadian Rangers Instructors help forge relations between elders and recruiters, as the CFAEP recruiting teams can only travel to isolated areas for short periods of time. The relationships accelerate the elders' acceptance of having community members join the military.

Annually, CF recruiters across the country receive cultural awareness training that helps them to better associate with aboriginal applicants and understand their needs.

History of the Program

The NNEP was established in 1971 to promote First Nations participation in the Canadian economy and the public service, and to address sovereignty concerns for the Canadian arctic through the creation of a significant military presence. The program was limited to aboriginal people who lived north of the 60th parallel (later expanded to Quebec north of the 55th parallel and the Labrador coast) and designed to provide extra training for those who might not meet the normal eligibility requirements. At that time, it was expected that NNEP participants would serve in the newly formed Northern Region.

A comprehensive program review in 1984 determined that NNEP attrition was higher than the norm at the Recruit School (Basic Training) and during QL3 training (the next level of occupational training) with few members completing their first Basic Engagement. The decision was made to continue the program and introduce the PRTC in 1986. Recruit attrition for Aboriginal peoples was reduced to a level consistent with the general population, but there was no effect on subsequent retention.

From 1990 through 1998, approximately 30 people have graduated from the PRTC each year, with between three and six having gone on to Recruit Training. Applicant attraction for the PRTC is very expensive because of Recruiter travel costs, a comprehensive annual attraction campaign costing $50,000 to $80,000. The PRTC itself annually cost approximately $160,000 (including $60,000 for applicant travel). The costs and questions on the program's effectiveness necessitated the requirement to review the NNEP.

In July 1999, the NNEP and its PRTC were cancelled in order to conduct the program review. The resources from the 1999 program were invested in improving the program in consultation with the government of the Northern territories (Nunavut, North West Territories and Yukon), native elders, Aboriginal organizations and community representatives. Their recommendations on how to best attract, train and assist applicants in adapting to southern Canadian and military cultures with a view to increasing retention of Northern people in the CF have been incorporated into the CFAEP. This exercise has been critical to creating a successful program for Aboriginal applicants and the CF where the skills and personal development acquired in military service will benefit the individual and ultimately the community.

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