As a boy growing up on the Membertou First Nation in Cape Breton, John Christmas always dreamt of serving in the Canadian Forces.

Christmas, an 18-year-old who is Mi’kmaq, took a major step in fulfilling this dream Thursday as he was one of 28 graduates of the first Halifax-run aboriginal pre-recruit training course.

“I’m actually proud of myself,” Christmas said after the ceremony. “I love the people here, I loved every day. I’m just so full of joy right now.”

The three-week long course offers Aboriginal Peoples from across Canada a chance to sample the military experience, said the course adviser Chief Petty Officer Debbie Eisan.

Of the 28 candidates who completed the course, 27 will go on to join the Canadian Forces on some level, said Eisan, who is also the aboriginal adviser to the Chief of Land Staff.

Christmas will begin training as an armoured solider this March.

The candidates, who range from ages 17 to 26, travelled to Halifax from every corner of the country including Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. and Okanagan, B.C.