Commander Canadian Army marks National Indigenous Peoples Day

Statement / June 21, 2022 / Project number: 22-0001

June 21, 2022 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Lieutenant-General Jocelyn Paul, Commander Canadian Army, issued the following statement to mark National Indigenous Peoples Day

“As Commander Canadian Army, and Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, I am pleased to invite my colleagues to join in recognizing National Indigenous Peoples Day.

June is National Indigenous History Month, during which we celebrate the heritage and achievements of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people.

While the Indigenous Peoples of this land hold distinct spiritual beliefs, June 21 - the summer solstice – is of great significance to all of us, and is celebrated widely in this part of the world, crossing many national and cultural borders.

In that spirit of commonality, today I am thinking of the many ways Indigenous Peoples have helped make the defence of Canada possible throughout history.

European newcomers quickly realized they needed the support of the Indigenous People to survive in Kanata. Individuals like Champlain swiftly sought to establish economic and military alliances with the various groups they were encountering as they were moving inland.

From the early days of New France to the War of 1812, and from the World Wars to Korea, Afghanistan and beyond, Indigenous soldiers have defended Canada with honour and distinction.

I am thinking too of the young people who leave their homes and families each year and complete one of the Canadian Armed Forces’ Indigenous training programs. Not all choose to pursue military careers, but they all enrich their communities as they carry that warrior spirit forward on top of contributing to the safety and security of our country.

Today, the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence are honouring Indigenous soldiers past, present, and future with the approval of two sacred Indigenous symbols for engraving on headstones at the National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.

Members or their families can now request engravings of the First Nations Medicine Wheel or Métis Infinity sign. An Inuit symbol will soon be submitted for approval and unveiled at a later date.

This decision was taken following consultation with the Canadian Armed Forces’ Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group and reviewed by elders and other appropriate advisors.

I am proud to be representing the Canadian Army and Indigenous Defence Team members today, as we take this important step to expand Indigenous spiritual expression.

This is a continuation of the ongoing commitment to properly honour Indigenous cultures within the Canadian Armed Forces and Department of National Defence, and of the larger national commitment to Truth and Reconciliation.

This is a long walk, but we will get there together.”

Lieutenant-General Jocelyn Paul, Commander Canadian Army and Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples

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