ARCHIVED - The Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group celebrates 20 years of accomplishment

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Article / June 15, 2015 / Project number: 15-0038

Ottawa, Ontario — This year, the Defence Aboriginal Advisory Group (DAAG) celebrates its 20th anniversary and a long legacy of accomplishments. The DAAG advises the Defence Champion for Aboriginal Peoples on significant issues and trends affecting the role and quality of life of Aboriginal people serving in the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed forces (CAF).

A celebratory event will take place on June 17 in Ottawa to commemorate this anniversary.  Current and former DAAG members, many of their supporters within DND/CAF, as well as sailors, soldiers, airmen and airwomen and civilian members of the Defence Team will be in attendance.

Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, Commander Canadian Army, is the current the Defence Champion for Aboriginal Peoples.

I am very proud to be the Champion and delighted to congratulate the DAAG on their 20th anniversary,” said LGen Hainse. “The traditions and values of Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples contribute greatly to our nation’s history and its cultural diversity, as well as to the CAF. The DAAG offers valuable guidance to senior leadership to promote and create a fair, equitable and inclusive working environment for all members of the Defence Team.

The mandate of the members of the DAAG is supporting the chain of command to foster awareness of Aboriginal issues, recruiting and retention issues.

The Group also provides a forum for Aboriginal Peoples to gather and support one another as they exercise their unique cultural, spiritual and traditional identities within DND and the CAF.

Equally importantly, the Group provides essential advice to the Defence Team leaders to identify any current systemic problems and determine their effect of future policies and initiatives on Aboriginal peoples within DND and CAF.

All members of DND and CAF, regardless of ethnic origin, are welcome to be members of the DAAG.

During the last twenty years, the DAAG has influenced the creation of a number of valuable initiatives, directives and programs.

For example, the DAAG has influenced the change in dress regulations that allows Aboriginal members to wear their hair in a traditional manner.  It has also helped to increased acceptance for certain other aspects of Aboriginal culture and extended family life within the DND and CAF communities.

As well, it has laid the groundwork for a number of programs for Aboriginal Peoples that can provide them with experience of various aspects of life within DND and CAF.

Those include the Aboriginal youth summer programs:

  • Raven, a Navy-oriented program based in Esquimalt British Columbia;
  • Bold Eagle, an Army-oriented program serving western Canada and North-Western Ontario;
  • And Black Bear, an Army-oriented program serving participants from eastern Canada.

Bold Eagle had already been established several years before the DAAG was stood up. It helped serve as a model for subsequent Aboriginal youth programs.

As well, there are the Canadian Forces Aboriginal Entry Program and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston.

All these programs were created so that young Aboriginal Peoples across Canada could participate for a specific period of time, experience aspects of the military lifestyle, and learn new skills that would benefit them and their communities no matter what their future career choice.

Following the completion of these programs, participants can join the CAF; or apply the leadership and teamwork skills they have learned in a wide variety of venues outside a military career, including returning to their communities to make a positive contribution.

My experience as a member of the DAAG is very fulfilling,” said Ms. Karen Shelton, National Civilian Co-Chair of the DAAG. “I invite the DND community to get involved with their advisory groups at all levels, be it local, regional or national. It’s a very rewarding experience.

Over the years, the DAAG has become so much more than just an advisory group: it has become a community. And I would like to thank all the people that have contributed to the group during the last two decades, including members, the Directorate of Diversity and Well-Being, the Directorate of Human Rights and Diversity, the Champion’s office and so many other people and organizations,” Ms. Shelton added.

By Captain Caroline Massicotte, Army Public Affairs

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