DND and CAF celebrate Indigenous Peoples of Canada during Indigenous Awareness Week

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.

Members of the Defence Team listen to a presentation by guest speaker Jennifer Podemski during the Indigenous Awareness Week event held at National Defence Headquarters on May 22, 2019 in Ottawa, Ontario. (Jay Rankin, Directorate of Army Public Affairs).


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.

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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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