Canadian Army gets its first Indigenous commander


The Canadian Army’s next leader will be a trailblazer when he assumes leadership of the service.

Lt. Gen. Jocelyn Paul, pictured, has been chosen to be the Army’s commander and will be the first Indigenous Canadian to serve in that position, the Department of National Defence (DND) announced April 21, 2022.

Paul’s appointment was part of what the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) called a “major shakeup” of Canadian Armed Forces leadership as new commanders were also tapped for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). It also comes as Canada takes on the challenge of recruiting and building a more diverse military.

“It’s rare, but not unprecedented, for all three leaders of the Canadian Armed Forces branches to be replaced at once during regularly scheduled promotions,” CBC News said in an April 21 report.

Paul last served in Naples, Italy, as deputy commander of the Allied Joint Force Command, which is part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He is from Wendake, Quebec, and is a member of the Huron-Wendat First Nation.

He started his career as a reserve infantry officer in 1988 and has held a number of significant  positions, including chief of staff of the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command, according to CBC News. Paul also served in Croatia in 1993-1994 as a platoon leader, and in 2009 was a battle group commander in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to a 2018 DND news story.

The other commanders appointed were:

  • Maj. Gen. Eric Kenny, a former CF-18 fighter pilot, will be the new commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force and will be promoted to lieutenant general.
  • Rear Adm. Angus Topshee, who most recently led Maritime Forces Pacific and Joint Task Force Pacific, will lead the Royal Canadian Navy and will be elevated to vice admiral.

The appointments were the first under a new Canadian military promotion and selection process that seeks to be more inclusive and to improve on character assessments of candidates, CBC News said.

“The [Canadian Armed Forces’] requirement for general and flag officers is driven by the need to lead defense priorities at the institutional level, create and sustain a diverse and inclusive culture, and project leadership abroad,” the DND said, according to CBC News.