Indigenous Relations

  • Indigenous partnerships are critical to advancing reconciliation, conducting operations, enhancing security, and improving our capabilities in the North and across Canada.
  • That is why we are engaging Indigenous governments and organizations on Defence investments and planning, through the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, Arctic and Northern Policy Framework, and co-development of the UN Declaration Action Plan Measures, as well as at a local level.
  • Indigenous businesses have proven crucial to the defence of Canada, particularly in the Arctic.
  • For example, in in October 2022, the Nasittuq Corporation was awarded a contract valued at $122 million for support services of Canadian Forces Station Alert, located in Nunavut.
  • We also recently completed a National Defence Indigenous Procurement Framework aimed at increasing Indigenous participation in the defence supply chain.
  • As National Defence implements NORAD modernization, including upgrades to key northern infrastructure, we will continue to engage Indigenous communities to understand shared priorities and identify opportunities for multi-purpose infrastructure where possible.
  • National Defence is also committed to increasing Indigenous representation in the Forces through a number of dedicated recruitment and leadership programs, including the Canadian Armed Forces Indigenous Entry Program.
  • The Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy and Chief Military Personnel also run five Indigenous Summer Training programs nation-wide, which combine military skills training and Indigenous knowledge.
  • These training programs, held in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, are scheduled to start in early July and run for six weeks.
  • We will continue to build and strengthen relationships with Indigenous partners across Canada.

Key Facts

  • Representation in the CAF: Indigenous representation in the Canadian Armed Forces is 2.9% as of November 30, 2022.
    1. Goal is 3.5% by 2026
    2. Approximately 23% of Canadian Rangers self-identify as Indigenous Peoples.
  • Budget 2022: Includes $9.5 million over five years for National Defence to facilitate engagement with Indigenous Peoples through the Indigenous Reconciliation Program, which will be launched in April 2023, in alignment with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.
  • All six Arctic and Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) will be affiliated with regions of Inuit Nunangat.
  • June 2022: Lieutenant-General Jocelyn Paul becomes the first Indigenous commander of the Canadian Army and the first Indigenous Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples.


Summer Training Programs

  • The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) offers five summer training programs that are six weeks in duration, combining a variety of Military training and Indigenous cultural teachings. These programs help develop valuable skills such as self-confidence, self-discipline, teamwork, time management, respect and fitness.
  • The CAF arranges all travel to and from the program, living accommodations, food, clothing and all equipment. Participants in the program are temporary CAF members and will be paid during participation in the program.
  • Participants who successfully complete a program are granted the CAF Army Reserve Basic Military Qualification.
  • The five Summer 2023 programs are as follows:
    • The Bold Eagle program is a Canadian Army training program that is open to Indigenous peoples living in Western Canada or Northwestern Ontario. Participants train in Wainwright, Alberta, from July 4 – August 10, 2023.
    • The Black Bear program is a Military Personnel Command program conducted by the Canadian Army for Indigenous peoples from across Canada. Participants train in Oromocto, New Brunswick, from July 5 – August 11, 2023.
    • Carcajou is a Canadian Army program open to Indigenous people living across Canada. The program is bilingual and available to all applicants in the province of Quebec, as well as French applicants from across Canada. Participants train in Valcartier, Quebec, from July 8 – 11 August, 2023.
    • The Raven program is a Military Personnel Command program conducted by the Royal Canadian Navy for Indigenous peoples from across Canada. Participants train in Esquimalt, British Columbia, from July 14 – 21 August, 2023.
    • Grey Wolf is a Canadian Army program open to Indigenous people living in Ontario, within a reasonable commuting distance (approximately 75 km) from an Army Reserve unit. Participants train in Meaford, Ontario, from July 9 – 21 August, 2023.

Indigenous Leadership Opportunity Year

  • The Canadian Armed Forces offers an Indigenous Leadership Opportunity Year, is open to Indigenous peoples across Canada and provides participants with exposure to the CAF military and academic disciplines. Enrolled and paid as Officer Cadets, participants experience university-level educational and leadership opportunities at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario.
  • The program garners an average of 17 participants per year.

Indigenous Engagement

  • National Defence has a legal duty to consult with Indigenous governments when contemplating activities that may have an impact on Aboriginal or Treaty rights. However, consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDRIP), National Defence is looking to go beyond this duty to engage with Indigenous partners in a meaningful way to gain their perspectives and priorities, in the spirit of reconciliation.
  • 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 with Inuit partners on projects, policies, or initiatives across Inuit Nunangat, or that affect Inuit, regardless of where they may live.
  • In April, 2022, National Defence formally joined the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee (ICPC) as a way to formalize and improve cooperation and collaboration with Inuit partners on sovereignty, defence, and security. ICPC Leaders Meetings at the Ministerial level occur three times a year. Once a year, it is co-chaired by the Prime Minister and the President Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), Natan Obed. ITK is the national representational organization protecting and advancing the rights and interests of Inuit in Canada.
  • Collaboration is also ongoing at the working level to make progress on shared priorities through the ICPC Working Group on Sovereignty, Defence, and Security.
  • In September 2022, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence attended the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework (ANPF) Leadership Committee meeting and presented to Northern Provincial, Territorial, and Indigenous leaders and other federal Ministers on NORAD modernization.
  • In February 2023, following an incident in the Yukon involving the shooting down of a high-altitude object, National Defence engaged the ANPF All Partners Working Group, which is an officials’ level meeting, to provide Northern territorial and Indigenous partners with an update on the situation, as well as a high-level, unclassified threat briefing on the Arctic. This is in addition to operational-level engagements conducted by Joint Task Force North with local governments in the region following the downing of the object and throughout the subsequent search.

Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples

  • National Defence supports reconciliation with Indigenous peoples by facilitating the strategic implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (UNDA) and National Defence’s participation in the associated Implementation Action Plan.
  • There are several key areas of the UN Declaration that have specific implications for National Defence and reconciliation:
    • Deepening engagement and collaboration on areas of mutual interest, notably military activities on Indigenous lands;
    • Facilitating Indigenous governance, and supporting self-determination and the object of free, prior, and informed consent in dealings with Indigenous peoples; and,
    • Aligning positions in treaty negotiations and in work that relates to land and to the environment.
  • National Defence is also working closely with Indigenous partners on the co-development of the UN Declaration Action Plan measures in areas that apply to our department, with support from the Department of Justice.

Indigenous Investments

  • The Government of Canada has implemented a mandatory target to have at least five percent (5%) of the total value of contracts awarded to Indigenous businesses. This target includes both infrastructure and materiel procurement. Departments will be phased in to meet this new target, with National Defence onboarding in the 2024-2025 fiscal year.
  • North Warning System In-Service Support Contract:
    • On January 31, 2022, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of National Defence, awarded a contract to the Nasittuq Corporation, an Inuit majority-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). The contract also includes four two-year option periods for a total estimated value of $1.3 billion ($1.1 billion before taxes)
  • Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert:
    • On October 3, 2022, Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of National Defence, awarded a contract to Nasittuq Corporation to provide support services to CFS Alert in Nunavut. The contract covers all support services for CFS Alert, including accommodations, food services, maintenance and operation of grounds and roads, buildings, fuel storage tanks, fire alarm systems, water and sewage treatment systems, and a quarry operation.
    • Contract value: The contract is valued at $122 million (excluding taxes) for an initial period of eight-and-a-half years.
  • In fiscal year 2021/2022, the total value of Indigenous Contracts (inclusive of the North Warning system) was $634.5M, representing 20.6% of total contracts.
  • The three-year average (FY 18/19 – FY 20-21) of the total value of Indigenous contracts was approximately $138 million, representing 0.31%.

Arctic Council

  • The Arctic Council remains the leading intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation, coordination and interaction among the Arctic States, Arctic Indigenous peoples and other Arctic inhabitants on common Arctic issues, in particular on issues of sustainable development and environmental protection. Issues of military security are explicitly excluded from the Council’s mandate.
  • Canada played a key role in advancing the Ottawa Declaration that created the Arctic Council in 1996, and also contributed to the Arctic Council taking the trail-blazing step of including Indigenous peoples' organizations at the Council table; 3 of which include Canadian membership.
  • In response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the other founding states of the Arctic Council – Canada, Finland, Iceland, the Kingdom of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and the United States – announced a pause in their participation in the Arctic Council on March 3, 2022.
  • On June 8, 2022, Canada announced a limited resumption of its work in the Arctic Council on projects that do not involve the participation of the Russian Federation.

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