The Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) hosted a commemorative event last Wednesday, May 22 at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa as part of Indigenous Awareness Week.
Highlights of the event included an address from Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander, Canadian Army and Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, and guest speaker actor/producer Jennifer Podemski. Participants were also able to see a display of artifacts, demonstrations by Indigenous artisans, and sample traditional Indigenous foods.
Indigenous people make up approximately 2.8 per cent of the military and 3.1 per cent of civilian Defence Team populations.
The celebration centred on the theme “We are all treaty people / Honouring all my relations because intersectionality matters.” This theme invites personnel to think about their roots and family lines, to take pride in all facets of their heritage and remember that, together, they form a diverse community.
“Canada’s fighting force greatly benefits from the diversity of our members. I am honoured to celebrate the culture and history of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and recognize the significant contributions that Indigenous people have made to the Defence Team. Together, we proudly serve Canadians and stand strong, proud and ready to meet today’s challenges at home and abroad,” says Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander Canadian Army, and Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples.
The Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples is the Defence Team’s foremost advocate for matters pertaining to Indigenous members within the organizational culture.
From May 21 to 24, 2019, members of the Defence Team commemorated Indigenous Awareness Week by hosting similar events at various locations across Canada. This initiative enables the DND and CAF to celebrate the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, past and present, and the many Indigenous traditions and cultures that enrich the mosaic of our country.