The Canadian Army has its first Indigenous commander.
Lieutenant General Jocelyn (Jo) Paul took over Thursday, succeeding Major General. Michel-Henri Saint-Louis, acting chief soldier since last year.
Paul is a respected soldier who served as one of the country’s battle group commanders during the Afghan war. He began his career with the Royal 22nd Regiment but most recently served as Deputy Commander of the NATO Allied Forces in Naples, Italy.
For several years, he was the highest-ranking indigenous person in the armed forces. A member of the Wendake, Queensland Huron First Nation community, Paul has often spoken about how his culture and personal history have shaped him as a soldier and person.
But his promotion to army commander is a milestone.
“If I can be of any help, if I can inspire any young man or girl who is hesitant to enter a military career, and if I can have five, six, 10, 15, 20 more Aboriginal soldiers, I think I feel like I’ve done my duty,” Paul told reporters after the team change.
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He said he was “deeply grateful” for the opportunity to command the Canadian Army at a critical time in history as war rages across Europe.
“From the Baltic to the Black Sea, our NATO allies recognize the tradition of excellence of the Canadian Forces and the Canadian Army, all made possible only by those who wear the uniform,” Paul said in an official statement. National Defense statements.
The command ceremony, held on Thursday at the Cartier Square training hall in Ottawa, was of great personal significance to Paul.
André Levesque Sioui, who is also a vendat from Paul’s home community, performed a canoe song originally written by one of Paul’s ancestors just over 100 years ago.
“Respect, dignity and humility”
Paul said he expected everyone in the army to act with “respect, dignity and humility”. He reminisced about his days leading combat units in Kandahar, where he said “gender, race, ethnicity, language and sexual orientation” were never discussed.
“Because we faced adversity helping and protecting each other,” Paul said. “We were focused on the team.”
Paul takes command just as the military is in a major leadership crisis.
Retired Lt. Gen. Trevor Kadia, a former officer who was scheduled to become army commander, was formally charged Wednesday with two counts of sexual assault in connection with allegations dating back to the mid-1990s.
It was just the latest in a series of sexual harassment cases and allegations that have sidelined — or forced the resignation of — as many as 11 senior military leaders.