Defending Canada

Canadian soldiers set a perimeter position after disembarking a U.S. Navy landing craft during a training exercise.

Image  by U.S. federal government.  Public Domain

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The chief agency that protects and defends Canada is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The CAF’s main mandate is to:

  • Protect Canada and defend its sovereignty
  • Defend North America in cooperation with the United States, Canada’s closest ally
  • Contribute to international peace and security through operations around the world, most often in partnership with allies from other countries

The Armed Forces protect and defend the country on air, sea, and land through the Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Canadian Navy, and the Canadian Army.

Defending Canada and more

Based on its mandate, the CAF’s service extends beyond Canada’s shores. Aside from patrolling Canada’s coasts and monitoring its skies, members of the CAF help in defending North America by working with the US at the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to monitor and defend the airspace and ocean areas. Also, the Forces help maintain international peace through operational missions abroad. Many are deployed to serve in peace-keeping missions all over the world.

Locally, members of the CAF serve communities by leading search and rescue missions, as well as help in disaster relief operations, such as in forest fires or during natural disasters.

Serving the armed forces

Military service is not compulsory in Canada. But if you are interested in serving in the armed forces, there are many opportunities open to you, once you become a citizen. Members of the Forces can choose to work full time in the Regular Force or part time in the Reserve Force. You can also be an Officer and be trained to lead a group under your command, or serve as a Non-Commissioned Member and provide operational and support services.

The following are the basic requirements for serving in the military:

  • Be a Canadian Citizen
  • Be 17 years of age, with parental consent, or older, except:
    – Regular Officer Training Plan – Junior applications must be 16 or older
  • – Reserve Force – Applicants may be 16 years of age if they are also enrolled as a full-time high school student.

  • Have completed at least Grade 10 or Secondaire IV (in Quebec)
    – Certain entry programs and occupations require higher levels of education

Starting them young

Young people who are looking for exciting activities and opportunities to gain confidence, skills, and develop discipline, responsibility and leadership, can become a cadet. Canada’s Cadet Program was established to “contribute to the development and preparation of youth for the transition to adulthood, enabling them to meet the challenges of modern society, through a dynamic, community-based program.” The program encourages cadets to improve their physical fitness, work harder at their academic studies, and give back to the community through volunteerism and citizenship activities.

Applicants must decide whether they want to train with Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, or Air Cadets. Recruitment is done all year round. However, it is recommended to join no later than March 31 to qualify for summer camp. Squadrons usually hold recruiting nights in September and January every year.

Applicants for the Cadets Program must:

  • be a legal resident of Canada. A legal resident of Canada is a Canadian citizen, a landed immigrant, or, the dependant of a person who is lawfully resident in Canada on a temporary basis for the purpose of education or employment
  • provide proof of provincial health insurance coverage or equivalent
  • be at least 12 years of age
  • not have attained 19 years of age
  • normally be in good physical condition
  • not belong to another corps or squadron and
  • be acceptable to the Commanding Officer (CO) of the cadet corps or squadron

To know more about the Cadets Program, go to the Canadian Cadet Organizations page.

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Community Resources

Interested in serving the military? You can find out more details from the National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces site.

Take a peek at the events and activities cadets participate in to get an idea of what goes into cadets training: Sea Cadets, Army Cadets, and Air Cadets.

To find your local squadron locations, go to The Air Cadet Program in Manitoba, Army Cadet League of Manitoba, and the Navy League of Manitoba.

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Defending Canada

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