Original Published on Aug 26, 2022 at 08:31

By Ryan Clarke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Alberta RCMP held a recruitment camp in early August, the Soaring  Eagles Indigenous Youth Camp, introducing Indigenous youth to a career  in law enforcement, emergency response, and community involvement.

  Last held in 2019 the camp was put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic  but returned with 28 Indigenous youths age 16 – 19 participating in the  week-long camp. On Aug. 13 Indigenous leaders, representatives from the  province, RCMP, family and friends gathered outside the RCMP  headquarters in Edmonton to congratulate the youth as they paraded  outside for the 2022 graduation.

 The camp simulates the same  intellectual training regular members receive in Depot with daily  fitness drills, interactive presentations, and other activities geared  to helping participants further a career in the RCMP should they join  when able.

 “We want to show them what the RCMP is about, an  inside view of what we do. During the week they met with different units  from Major Crimes, Emergency Response Teams, Police Dog Services,  Explosive Disposal Units, and Forensic Identification Services. During  the day we had a team of members that bring them along to visit each  unit. In the evenings, we had a team work with them on building  relationships and mentorships,” said Cst. Annick Carigan with Recruiting  Services for RCMP Alberta.

 Participants found new friendships and comraderie in their peers, forming lasting friendships along the way.

  “I got to meet a lot of people like me. They all wanted to be RCMP  officers and I made a bunch of friends there,” said Jacob Smith, a  participant in the camp from Coutts. “We made a group chat and we’re  still talking every day.”

 Smith is 19 and will be applying to the RCMP, with the camp a first-time experience for him. “I really want to join the RCMP.”

  “They did a bunch of fitness training, it was fun but it was torture on  my legs,” said Smith. “They would wake us up at around 9 a.m. to go to  have breakfast, and then we would do drills after that down in the gym.  They would lead us through routines, and running obstacle courses. After  lunch we would do a bit of lessons, like firearms and forensics. They  took us through a bunch of activities. When we finished around four,  they would take us out around the city to do activities, like go to the  mall or swimming.”

 The camp showed participants the importance of  unity and how RCMP officers are like a family, with a goal of  showcasing what it is to be an RCMP officer.

 “In the RCMP we have  a regimental dinner, where members go and gather. There is a toast to  the queen, toast to the force, it’s a very traditional moment. So we try  to recreate that by doing a dinner for the kids. On Thursday night,  they go and have supper with the Commanding Officer of the division.  They have a four-course meal with other officers within the RCMP. It  really shows them that, this is what you’re getting into with the RCMP, a  big family,” said Carigan.

 The Soaring Eagles Youth Camp is  hosted by the Alberta RCMP Recruiting Unit in partnership with the  Justice and Solicitor General First Nations Policing Services,  introducing Indigenous youth to a career in law enforcement, emergency  response, and community involvement.

 “I’m not expecting to get  all 28 youths to come back and apply to the RCMP. Because for some  people, this career is not for them. Who knows, they might apply to work  as a civilian and dispatch calls or other jobs within the RCMP. But if I  can get one participant to come back and say ‘You guys really did  something that made me realize what I could get from the RCMP.’ Then  I’ve done my job. That’s the way I see it,” said Carigan.

This item reprinted with permission from the Herald, Lethbridge, Alberta