Indigenous Relations

  • Partnerships with Indigenous Peoples are critical to conduct operations, enhance security, and improve our infrastructure and capabilities in the North and across Canada.
  • To help ensure that the Defence Team is representative of Indigenous Peoples, we leverage five Indigenous summer training programs and the Aboriginal Entry Program to promote recruitment.
  • The summer training programs combine a variety of military training and Indigenous cultural teachings, and provides graduates with an Army Reserve basic military qualification.
  • In terms of community engagement, the Canadian Rangers and the Junior Canadian Rangers Program routinely provide support to Indigenous Peoples, and work together to strengthen cultural ties.
  • In addition, we are working on a National Defence Indigenous Procurement Framework aimed toward awarding at least five percent of the total value of all contracts to Indigenous-led businesses.
  • In the context of continental defence and NORAD modernization, the Defence Team is conducting ongoing engagement with Indigenous partners to determine areas of cooperation and collaboration. 
  • I am also personally committed to continuing to build strong relations with all Indigenous partners, and was recently invited to join the Inuit Crown Partnership Committee as a way to formalize and deepen collaboration with Inuit on defence and security issues.

Key Facts

Indigenous Representation:

  • The Canadian Armed Forces seeks to increase Indigenous representation through:
    • Five Indigenous Summer Training programs nation-wide, which combine military skills training and Indigenous cultural teachings.
    • The Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program which provides three weeks of hands-on military training and lifestyle experiences.
    • The Canadian Armed Forces offers an Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year, which is open to Indigenous peoples across Canada. It involves an academic year in a university environment, for educational and leadership experience at Royal Military College (RMC) Kingston.
  • Goal: 3.5% by 2026.
  • Current: 2.7% (as of April 1, 2022.)
  • On the public service side of National Defence, the Civilian Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Strategy was developed in 2021 and began being implemented in 2022, starting with the Executive Indigenous Recruitment Process.
    • 54 candidates were interviewed as part of the Executive Indigenous Recruitment process, from which a pool has been established with 31 fully-qualified candidates.
    • In August / September 2021, the Indigenous Student Ambassador Program was launched as part of the strategy, which has increased Indigenous student recruitment by 300% this past fiscal year.

Infrastructure and Procurement:

  • The Government of Canada has implemented a mandatory target to have at least five percent of the total value of contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses. This target includes both infrastructure and materials procurement.
  • National Defence has partnered with Defence Construction Canada to develop a Joint Indigenous Procurement Strategy.
  • This Strategy focuses on Real Property, and we are developing a Departmental Indigenous Procurement Policy Framework.
  • National Defence has provided 21 federal procurement opportunity outreach sessions to the Indigenous business community across Canada.
  • North Warning System In-Service Support Contract:
    • January 31, 2022: Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of the National Defence, awarded a contract to Nasittuq Corporation, an Inuit owned company, for the operation and maintenance of the North Warning System.
    • Contract value: The contract is for an initial period of seven years, and is valued at $592 million ($527 million before taxes).
  • All six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships will be affiliated with all 4 regions of Inuit Nunangat, including:
    • Qikiqtani (Nunavut)
    • Kitikmeot (Nunavut)
    • Kivalliq (Nunavut)
    • Inuvialuit (Inuvialuit Settlement Region)
    • Nunavik
    • Nunatsiavut
  • These affiliations are a long-standing naval tradition and deeply valued by the sailors and the civilian communities.
  • Budget 2022: Includes $9.5 million over five years for National Defence to align its operations and engagement with Indigenous Peoples with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Inuit Crown Partnership Committee:

  • April 21, 2022: National Defence formally joined the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC) as a way to formalize and improve cooperation and collaboration with the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) and Inuit partners on sovereignty, defence, and security.
  • The Committee meets three times a year.
  • Once a year, it is co-chaired by the Prime Minister and the President of ITK.

Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK):

  • National Defence is building a new relationship with Inuit through ITK, the national organization that advances the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada.
  • Since October 2021, there have been several bilateral engagements ranging from working-level to Ministerial-level.

Inuit Nunangat Policy:

  • National Defence participated in the creation of the Inuit Nunangat Policy, which was co-developed with Inuit.
  • This policy directs federal departments and agencies to consider Inuit priorities, and engage early on projects, policies or initiatives that affect Inuit Nunangat.


Canadian Rangers:

  • The Canadian Rangers conduct ground search and rescue in support of provincial, territorial, and local authorities, as well as training, operations, and surveillance and sovereignty patrols.
  • They also play a critical role to support Indigenous communities, including during the pandemic through transportation and distribution of information and supplies, wellness checks, and staffing emergency centres. In addition, they provide evacuation support due to flooding and fires.
  • 2022 is the “Year of the Ranger”, as the Canadian Rangers will mark their 75th anniversary this year.
  • Approximately 23% of Rangers self-identify as Indigenous Peoples (as of April 14, 2022).
  • Canadian Rangers provide immediate Ground Search and Rescue support, and delivered this service 34 times in 2021.

Junior Canadian Rangers:

  • Routinely engages in cultural experiences with Indigenous communities to promote traditional cultures and lifestyles.
  • Contribute to Ranger patrol groups in their community.
  • Activities involve three important “circles” of training: Ranger Skills, Traditional Skills, and Life Skills.
  • Program is open to all youth aged 12 to 18 years who live in remote and isolated communities of Canada.

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