Indigenous Relations

  • Indigenous partnerships are critical as we conduct operations, enhance security, and improve our infrastructure and capabilities in the North.
  • That is why we are making real efforts to increase Indigenous participation in the military.
  • For example, the Canadian Armed Forces Aboriginal Entry Program provides Indigenous Peoples with three weeks of hands-on military training and lifestyle experiences.
  • National Defence has also partnered with Defence Construction Canada to develop a Joint Indigenous Procurement Strategy.
  • Through this program, National Defence has already provided 21 federal procurement opportunity outreach sessions to the Indigenous business community across Canada.
  • Six Canadian Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships are also affiliated with regions of Inuit Nunangat, which contributes to meaningful engagement with Indigenous communities in Canada’s North.
  • The Canadian Rangers also play a critical role in supporting Indigenous communities, and approximately 23% of Canadian Rangers self-identify as Indigenous Peoples.
  • The Canadian Rangers have played a crucial support role throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including transporting and distributing supplies, conducting wellness checks, and staffing emergency centres.
  • Additionally, the Junior Canadian Rangers Program routinely works with Indigenous communities to strengthen ties, partake in cultural experiences, and provide a structured program for young people.
  • We know that there is more to be done, and we will continue to build and strengthen relationships with our Indigenous partners.

Key Facts

Indigenous Representation:

  • Goal: 3.5% by 2026.
  • Current: 2.8% as of January 7, 2022.

Canadian Rangers:

  • Approximately 23% self-identify as Indigenous Peoples, including Inuit, Dene, Cree, Anishinaabe, and Métis communities.

Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships Affiliation Program:

  • All 6 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.

Promoting Cultural Awareness within the Defence Team:

  • National Defence offers training, education, and commemorative events to build cultural competence, ensure awareness of Indigenous cultures, languages, and traditions, and promote reconciliation.
  • As of January 23, 2022, a total of 76,726 Defence Team members completed the DLN – Introduction to Indigenous Cultures course.


Supporting Reconciliation

  • National Defence supports broader reconciliation with Indigenous groups by:
    • Participating, as required, in federal treaty discussions with Indigenous groups;
    • Engaging in recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination tables;
    • Working with Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Indigenous Services Canada and other government departments, provincial and municipal partners to advance Indigenous relations and reconciliation efforts;
    • Undertaking Unexploded Explosive Ordnance (UXO) clearance on Indigenous lands under the “Legacy Sites” program;
    • Providing UXO training support to Indigenous communities to sustain employment and economic development opportunities; and,
    • Supporting the Government of Canada’s target to award at least 5% of the total value of federal contracts to businesses managed and led by Indigenous Peoples.
  • National Defence is also working with Indigenous communities to remediate divested lands and ensure their safe use, including for economic development.
  • This includes resolving the legacy of historic military use of reserve lands.
  • National Defence is supporting broader Government efforts to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) which came into force in June 2021. Efforts include:
    • The development of a funding mechanism to support Indigenous participation in National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces activities of mutual interest; and
    • Engagement and consultation with Indigenous governments, particularly in the North, for the development and implementation of continental defence and NORAD modernization initiatives.

Supporting Representation

  • Several programs focused on increasing recruitment of Indigenous Peoples, such as:
    • The Aboriginal Entry Program, a three-week hands-on experience program for Indigenous Peoples who are considering a career in the Canadian Armed Forces;
    • The Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year, a year-long, paid, academic program for Indigenous Peoples who serve as Officer Cadets at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario; and,
    • Multiple six-week paid Indigenous summer training opportunities across Canada, which integrate Indigenous cultural teachings with military training, and provide participants with a Primary Reserve basic military qualification upon completion.
  • The Department of National Defence is committed to hiring more Indigenous Peoples into the workforce, including at the executive leadership level.
    • National Defence launched a Civilian Executive level Indigenous Recruitment Campaign in December 2021 in order to recruit high level Indigenous leaders to EX-01 positions across the department. This process aims to remove barriers that Indigenous candidates are often faced with in the staffing process and provide meaningful executive level opportunities.

Canadian Rangers

  • In support of National operations, Canadian Rangers deployed on:
    • Operation LASER (850 Rangers in 2020-21) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Operation VECTOR (88 Rangers in 2020-21) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Operation REMOTE IMMUNITY 2.0 and 3.0 in support of vaccination distribution in Northern Ontario.
    • Operation LENTUS to assist with floods in the North West Territories and in support of the fight against wildfires in Ontario.
    • Canadian Rangers are also heavily involved in the Operation NANOOK series of operations.

Junior Canadian Rangers Program

  • The Junior Canadian Rangers (JCR) program provides a structured youth program, open to all youth aged 12 to 18 years, which promotes traditional cultures and lifestyles, and supports youth engagement and early employment opportunities.
  • JCR training is organized within the 3 Circles of Learning. This includes Life, Ranger, and Traditional Skills. The Traditional Skills Circle of Learning is unique to each community a JCR Patrol resides in. To this extent, in those communities with an Indigenous population, JCR activities may include engagement with Elders, Indigenous languages and knowledge sharing, learning about cultural dance and art, food harvesting and preparation and preservation of the land.
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