OCdts. On Parade

Photos courtesy of: Emilie Bouffard

RMC – ALOY Canoe Trip 2010

By: 24487 Dan Fleming

The summer of 2010 marked the end of the second year of RMC’s Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year. The program this year brought together ten bright, young men and women from aboriginal communities across Canada, even as far as the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Having been one of the ALOY Recruit Camp staff last summer,  as well as having half the group integrated into 12 Sqn, I was able to see just how much they would progress during the year. Their transition from raw recruits, to sharp, disciplined young leaders, was phenomenal.

The skills they had developed over the course of the year were then to be put to the test during the final phase of the ALOY program: a canoe expedition on the Rideau Canal. The trip would begin in Smith’s Falls, ON, where the entire group was treated to a tour of the Rideau Canal Museum, and end 6 days later in Kingston, ON, following the navigation of over 100km of the canal system, and passage through several of the historic locks.

This main effort of this expedition was to provide the ALOY students with an opportunity to plan and lead small party taskings on the canal, which included scenarios such as: monitoring waterway traffic, setting up observation points, doing recce’s of islands or inlets, and setting up camp each day. On the water, they were required to communicate using proper radio procedure, and complete all the necessary navigation.  These taskings were all completed at the syndicate level, with the main group splitting into two such groups. The students were then rotated through the leadership positions each day.

The syndicate leaders were issued their orders each night in the camp, and were then required to complete a plan as well as create their own set of orders which would be used to brief their subordinates. The next morning, the syndicates were left to their own devices to complete the required taskings and arrive at the next checkpoint. The planning, orders format, order groups, and taskings were all evaluated by the ALOY staff, who then provided the students with valuable feedback as well a mark.

The beginning and end of the trip were marked with a ceremony put on by the ALOY Elder, Bernard Nelson. This ceremony is known as a “smudging ceremony,” and to describe it simply, it is a gathering of the entire group in a seated circle, where the Elder leads everyone in a period of prayer and reflection.  This was an extremely inspiring experience, and a great way to begin and end the trip, as it really helped to bond the entire group.

The trip overall was a huge success, and without a doubt, will provide the ALOY students with lifelong memories and many great stories! Let us wish good luck to those who are entering the Wing as First Year Cadets, or seeking other opportunities, and welcome the new batch of ALOY students who will hopefully continue to make this a very successful program at RMC!

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