Participants in the Soaring Eagle after their graduation ceremony on Aug. 10, 2018, in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo: David Bloom / Postmedia
The R.C.M.P. have begun a recruiting program aimed at Indigenous youth called “Soaring Eagle” and apparently modeled after the Canadian military’s programs “Bold Eagle”, “Soaring Bird”, “Black Bear”, and “Raven”.
by Stephen Cook, Edmonton Journal, August 10, 2018
Indigenous teens got the chance to train like police this week in the inaugural Soaring Eagles Indigenous Youth Camp.
Hailing from all over Alberta, the class of 16- to 19-year-olds spent the last week sleeping in barracks and attending classes about policing careers from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in preparation for Friday’s graduation at RCMP K Division Headquarters.
Marching in by bagpipe, the class of 18 looked snappy in matching caps and athletic wear adorned with RCMP crests. They stood proudly on the parade square as visiting dignitaries, including Alberta Lt.-Gov. Lois E. Mitchell, gave them accolades in front of their assembled families.
“A lot of it was really enjoyable, we loved it all,” said Aspen Northwest, 16, after the ceremony. Through teamwork and hardships, the cadets had become “like a little family,” she said.
Cadets received instruction on many different facets of the RCMP, getting visits from different units including major crimes and canine, but also took time for fitness classes and drilling instruction.
Northwest, from Maskwacis, was one of two (due to a tied vote by peers) awarded top cadet. She said she looks forward to joining the RCMP someday.
Cpl. Kimberly Mueller, the course’s lead instructor, said the cadets and instructors also got to connect on a personal level during some of the more fun activities scheduled in the evenings.
“We got to share that this career as an Aboriginal person, for me personally, has been so empowering,” said Mueller, who is from the Mikisew Cree First Nation. “I feel like I’m making a difference for Aboriginal people, I feel I can understand some of the trauma, culture, (and) history of our community.”
Indigenous cadets bringing their knowledge and culture to the RCMP “would benefit this force and benefit everybody, really, at the end of the day,” she added.
Deputy Commissioner Todd Shean, one of the program’s architects, stressed this need to represent the people policed.
“I really felt we could do a better job of recruiting from our Indigenous communities, our First Nations communities, and that was the drive behind (Soaring Eagles),” he said. Shean added that even if cadets do not end up in careers with the RCMP, they go back to their communities as ambassadors and with new connections.
For Shean, on the cusp of retiring after 33 years, the program is an achievement.
“To put on programs like this and see these kids interested in coming and interested in a career with the RCMP, (it) brings a smile to my face as I end my career … knowing there’s somebody there to take charge and lead the organization forward.”