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High school students sworn into army reserve for co-op program


A dozen high school students from Waterloo Region and Guelph have been sworn into the army reserve as part of a co-op program.

The ceremony was held at the Cambridge Armoury on Saturday.

"Today we swore in 12 recruits who will be here to learn how to become soldiers as part of the co-op program," said Lt.-Col. Shawn Dumbreck of the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada.

The students will undergo basic military training while receiving high school co-op credits and financial reimbursement. Students must be 16 years old, have completed grade 10, and have parental consent.

The program took a pandemic pause and has returned at a time when the military is battling  with recruitment and retention.

"That has definitely been a major point for both the Chief of Defence Staff and our sitting government to grow this force," said Lt.-Col. Dumbreck.

The army shrunk by 1,200 soldiers in 2021 and roughly 800 in 2022.

"It starts here at the community level. Something like the co-op program brings youth into the armoury and gives them that exposure and taste of military life," said Lt.-Col Dumbreck.

Matthew Van Ravenstein is a new recruit who will be developing the same skills taught through the basic military qualification course. This includes everything from a basic understanding of drills, to proper dress code and deportment.

"I've always wanted to do this," said Van Ravenstein. "Even as a kid I was always looking at them and thinking 'wow I want to do that someday.' A lot of my ancestors did join different militaries, so I think that is a good choice."

The students aren't considered qualified soldiers and may choose to go an entirely different direction following their co-op. But Van Ravenstein wants to go all the way.

"Not a lot of people know about it, and even if they do, are they willing to do it?" said Van Ravenstein. "It does look very frightening because you're like 'what if I have to go overseas? What if I have to leave my family?'"

So for some this opportunity is far more than just a high school credit. It's a chance to be credited for serving their country. Top Stories

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