Carcajou

Are you an Indigenous person living in Canada? Interested in a challenging summer experience that delivers hands-on skills development, encourages teamwork, provides physical fitness training and promotes cultural awareness?

If so, Carcajou is the program for you! This unique summer training program, which combines Indigenous culture and teachings with military training, will help you develop valuable skills such as self-confidence, self-discipline, teamwork, time management, respect and fitness. Carcajou is an Army program open to Indigenous people living across Canada and is a bilingual program. Participants train in Valcartier, Quebec.

The six-week program is conducted from early July to mid-August each year. During this time, you are enrolled as a member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). Upon completion of the program, you can choose to remain in the CAF (as a Regular Force member, a Reserve Force member or a Canadian Ranger) or to be released from service.

Benefits of the program

During the program, you will find out more about yourself and what you’re capable of achieving through hard work, perseverance and teamwork. You will also have the chance to meet Indigenous people from across Canada. Overall, the program will help you prepare yourself for the future – wherever that may take you.

During the program, we will provide you with: 

  • Meals and accommodation;
  • Military clothing and equipment to use during the training;
  • Transportation from home to the training location and back home; and
  • Around $4,200 in salary.

If you live near a Primary Reserve unit, you can, upon graduation, transfer to that unit to continue to serve in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) when you return to your community. You can also transfer into the Regular Force or into a Canadian Ranger Patrol Group. Serving full-time or part-time are excellent career options and a chance to further your service in the CAF, should you choose this route.

Eligibility requirements

Are you up for the Carcajou challenge? The first step is finding out if you are eligible. To be eligible for the Carcajou program, you must:

  • Be First Nation, Métis or Inuit (status not required);
  • Be 16 years of age or older;
  • Have completed Grade 10 or Secondaire 4;
  • Be a Canadian citizen; and
  • Reside in Canada.

Further instructions for applicants 18 and under

All applicants under the age of 18 must obtain consent from a parent or legal guardian to participate in this exciting opportunity. Applicants must be at least 16 and enrolled in school full-time at the time of application. If you are not a full-time student, the minimum enrollment age is 17 years.

If you are still completing Grade 10, you must send us a letter from your high school outlining the courses you are taking and your potential to complete them successfully. You will be enrolled once we receive the transcripts that state that you have passed Grade 10. Make sure to send us your proof of completion early, as you cannot be enrolled in the program without it, and slots fill up early.

Carcajou training

Once you are accepted into the Carcajou program, your training will take place in Valcartier, Québec from early July to mid-August of that year.

The program is made up of two parts.

The first week involves the Culture Camp, where you will learn traditional Indigenous values and teachings as taught by Indigenous Elders or teachers. The Culture Camp helps candidates understand the need for self-discipline and teamwork and instills pride and the sense of continuing the Indigenous tradition of military service.

At the end of the first week, you will continue your military training with CAF military instructors. The course itself is the standard five-week Army Reserve Basic Military Qualification (BMQ). During the BMQ course, you will learn a number of skills, including weapons handling, navigation with a map and compass, first aid, drill, outdoor field craft and survival skills.

You will also have the opportunity to participate in a local powwow and attend an organized career day that will introduce you to the education and career options in the CAF or other organizations.

In addition to the comprehensive and extremely demanding training, there are regular Elder hours throughout, and also a mid-course sweat in the sweat lodge.

At the end of the program, you will be congratulated on your success with a graduation ceremony that encompasses military protocol with Indigenous customs. Carcajou recruits are enrolled in the Primary Reserve at the beginning of the course. That means that you can continue your career with the CAF, should you choose to do so. 

How to apply to the Carcajou program

You can apply to the Carcajou program online, by email or mail with the following paper applications. Make sure you have all of the required documents, including your:

To apply to the Carcajou program, we encourage you to get in touch with our program coordinators as well as the staff at the Canadian Armed Forces Recruiting Centre in your area for information. They will be able to answer questions and help walk you through the online application. Our program coordinators can also provide paper application forms, if needed.

The CAF starts taking applications for Carcajou at the beginning of September each year. There are a limited number of vacancies available for Carcajou, so don’t wait! However, please contact the Carcajou Coordinator to confirm as there may be occasions where they accept an application after the deadline. Once you’re accepted, you will receive a package containing all course details. We will also work with you to schedule your travel arrangements.

Contact us

Carcajou Coordinator: Lt Gabriel Bond-Castelli
Email: gabriel.bond-castelli@forces.gc.ca
Phone: 514-252-2777

Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre – Online Application
Email: Contact a recruiter near you
Phone: 1-800-856-8488

You can also make a request for a Carcajou Coordinator to come to your community or organization to give a presentation about the program. 

For requests to visit rural or remote locations, the Carcajou Coordinator will try to include your community, when it is feasible to do so, during a planned visit to the region.

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