Through speaking with Indigenous community leaders during a recruitment community relations day sail, the sailors from HMCS Nanaimo were made aware that some current and past Indigenous CAF members felt marginalized and disconnected. There was nothing that honour or recognized their unique cultures in the institution.
We sought to bring about a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous cultures. Initiatives included the engagement of local artists to create a unique and meaningful piece of art for the ship, the creation of a unit morale patch honouring the local Indigenous peoples, and attendance at a symposium on Indigenous and non-Indigenous relations. The methodology was extremely client-driven and we as a team were responsive and sensitive to stakeholders, guiding everyone through the process.
The local peoples of Nanaimo and other nations were very happy to have been included in such a process.
The team was awarded the 2018 Liz Hoffman Memorial Commendation, through the Department of National Defence Ombudsman, which recognizes Canadian Armed Forces members, civilian employees and family members who exceed expectations in helping their colleagues resolve a difficult problem or in bringing about positive and lasting change to the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.
Overall, this project engaged the Government of Canada’s pursuit of Truth and Reconciliation among non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples across Canada, at the local level where the contribution was strongest felt.
Artwork: Doug LaFortune
Collaborator and co-Project Manager: SLt Nathan Sukhdeo