Ceremony marks first permanent Canadian Armed Forces Indigenous Spiritual Lodge 

The Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School (CFLRS) inaugurated the first permanent Canadian Armed Forces Indigenous Spiritual Lodge. 

Military dignitaries, chaplains, Elders, Indigenous veterans and a group of roughly 20 participants from the Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal Entry Program (CFAEP) attended the intimate ceremony.

The Indigenous Spiritual Lodge is a new addition to the existing spiritual facilities at the Saint-Jean Garrison, including the chapel used for Catholic and Protestant religious services and the multi-faith centre used by members of other faith. 

“This is a very proud day for the Royal Canadian Chaplain Service. After several months of intense teamwork, we are happy to be inaugurating the first permanent Indigenous Spiritual Lodge in the history of the Canadian Armed Forces. The Saint-Jean Garrison now has a chapel for Catholics and Protestants, a multi-faith centre for Jews and Muslims, and a Place for Peace—an Indigenous Spiritual Lodge. Although the spiritual lodge is open to everyone regardless of spiritual, religious or philosophical affiliation, it is designed and built to meet the needs of Indigenous military personnel who wish to celebrate their ancestral practices and rich spiritual heritage. We are proud of this remarkable initiative implemented by the Saint‑Jean Garrison with determination and in a spirit of inclusion,” says, Lieutenant-Commander Martin Poëti, Chaplain, Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School.

The CFAEP graduation ceremony took place in the rotunda of the General J.‑V. Allard Building immediately following the inauguration. The three-week CFAEP gives interested Indigenous candidates an opportunity to explore various military careers before joining the CAF. Approximately 20 participants graduated in this cohort.

During the three-week course, participants experience military life first-hand as they study military organization and rank structure, undergo weapons training and military drills and participate in a physical fitness routine. Participants selected for the CFAEP take part in the program as civilians and can apply to join the Regular Force and start basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School. 

Each year, more than 5,000 Canadians begin their career at CFLRS, basic training is offered in both official languages for officers and non-commissioned members joining the Regular Force component.

“The courage, sacrifices, and achievements of Indigenous CAF members are a source of pride and inspiration for us all. Our shared goals and sacrifices on the battlefield have created powerful ties between us as brothers and sisters in arms. Together we are stronger, more resilient and better positioned to train versatile, battle-ready soldiers prepared to deal with an increasingly complex world,” says, Brigadier‑General Jennie Carignan, Commander, 2nd Canadian Division.

For more information about CFLRS, click here.

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Paige LeClair

As a recent graduate from the St. Thomas University Journalism program, Paige has a passion for storytelling and investigative journalism. In 2016, she, along with her journalism team were awarded first place at the Emerge Media Awards in the multimedia category. The team was also a finalist at the Canadian Association of Journalist Awards. She is excited to work with other military spouses providing stories and information to the military community. Paige is newly married to Andrew, a Lineman, and moved to their first posting in Petawawa in May of this year. She is excited to begin this journey with Andrew, their dog Diablo, and cat, Linux

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