Indigenous Awareness Week (IAW)

Indigenous Awareness Week  Graphic

Indigenous Awareness Week (IAW) is an annual event celebrated nationally across the Department of National Defence (DND)/ Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) during the third week of May. First celebrated in 1992, IAW has evolved into an opportunity to honour, through collaborative learning and sharing of knowledge, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples. IAW is also an opportunity to highlight the significant contributions that Indigenous members have made to the defence of Canada. Each year, IAW is celebrated under a new theme, which is chosen by the Defence Indigenous Advisory Team.

Indigenous Awareness Week 2023

The 2023 edition of IAW will be held from May 23 to May 26 under the theme “Reconciliation is a path walked together.” This theme focuses on how reconciliation is a joint effort between Indigenous and non-Indigenous DND/CAF members and how all must collaborate to better understand the past and present to move forward together. IAW 2023 aims to create safe spaces for all where they can gain a better understanding of Indigenous cultures.

This edition will include many celebrations around the country where military and non-military members will be able to take part in activities such as traditional ceremonies (smudging, sweat lodge ceremony, prayers, etc.), feasts, workshops, and more.

An in-person event will be held in Valcartier, Quebec on May 25. This will be the culminating point of IAW 2023. Please see below for more information.

  • Date: 25 May, 2023
  • Timings:
    • 9:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.: Smudging ceremony
    • 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.: Formal ceremony including dances, sacred sites visits, prayers and speeches;
    • 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Traditional Indigenous meal;
    • 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.: Workshops (making of talking stick and tobacco pouches/ traditional dances).
  • Location: 2nd Canadian Division Support Base Valcartier, Route de la Bravoure, Courcelette, QC G0A 4Z0.
  • Guest speakers:
    • Mr. Thivierge, member of the Huron-Wendat community;
    • LGen Jocelyn Paul, Commander Canadian Army (CA), Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples and proud member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation in Wendake.

Statement from the Commander of the CA and the Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples on IAW

This week is a time of celebration – but also reflection – and learning. Designed to increase awareness and understanding of Indigenous Peoples, our cultures, histories, and contributions to Canada.

The CAF and DND celebrate the richness of cultural diversity that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples bring today. We are skilled professionals and leaders serving Canada at home and overseas. We bring unique knowledge and perspectives as part of a dynamic and increasingly diverse team.”

Read the full statement from LGen Jocelyn Paul here.

Video statement from the co-chairs of the Defence Team Indigenous Advisory Committee

The co-chairs of the Defence Team Indigenous Advisory Committee, LGen Paul, and Rob Chambers, Assistant Deputy Minister, Infrastructure and Environment (ADM(IE)) recorded a video statement to kick off IAW and invite the military and non-military communities to take part. Their statement can be found on the CA Youtube channel.

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