National Indigenous Peoples Day, June 21, 2020

Video / June 22, 2020


Min Sajjan: Today, we mark National Indigenous Peoples Day – a day to honour the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of Canada. It is an opportunity to recognize and thank our serving Indigenous members and remember the courage of the thousands of Indigenous veterans who have served Canada in all major conflicts.

I would like to take this opportunity to also thank our 5,000 Rangers who are spread across the country. The Rangers are self-sufficient and engaged community members who support our sovereignty and domestic operations in the north. They share their expertise and guidance when we have operations and exercises in the Arctic. Their knowledge, skill and experience as a mobile force are integral to our Defence Team’s success.

Sgt Don Lickers: I am Donald James Lickers, Haudensaunee Seneca, with no clan affiliation. I have been a member of the Canadian Armed Forces since 2002 and a participant in CAF recruiting initiatives, diversity programs and the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group. I try to support and advise command and my peers on Indigenous issues in the CAF and balance my identity as First Nations. I have been gifted the teachings to carry the Canadian Armed Forces Eagle Staff and to care for the spiritual well-being of the Eagle Staff. I take this role seriously and will carry it when called on for all those who have served, who serve now and who will serve. Every day, I work to discover what it means to be First Nations and what it means to be Haudensaunee.

Min Sajjan: The unique heritages, languages and diverse cultural practices of Indigenous peoples are a source of strength, learning, and inspiration for all of us. On this day, we celebrate the contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples have made to Canada – past, present, and future – and commit to fortifying our relationships with them. For Indigenous Peoples interested in a future in the Canadian Armed Forces, we have training programs that combine Indigenous cultures and teachings with military training, like the Indigenous Summer Programs, the Youth Development Programs and outreach efforts, the Leadership Opportunities Year, and the Entry Program at RMC. While some of these are currently on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I encourage you to learn about these programs, by visiting the Canadian Armed Forces and VAC websites. The Government of Canada is also encouraging Canadians to honour the unique heritage and diverse cultures of Indigenous peoples, by engaging in activities that respect physical distancing such as reading a digital copy of one of the books from the #IndigenousReads reading list, or by exploring a virtual exhibit at a museum.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group, who provides counsel to the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of National Defence, and the Defence Champion for Indigenous Peoples on significant issues and trends that may be affecting the lives of Indigenous individuals who are on the Defence Team. This advice helps us support Indigenous employees and military members by ensuring fair and consistent policies applying to all.

Let me end by inviting all Canadians to join me in thanking our Indigenous Peoples for their dedicated service and invaluable contributions to our military’s history and operations.

Thank you. Mîkwêc.

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