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Canadian military to permit natives to wear long hair

December 23, 1997

OTTAWA (AP) _ Aboriginals in the Canadian military will be allowed to wear their hair in braids under a new policy to be implemented next year.

One native sailor in British Columbia already has received permission to start growing his hair long so he can wear it in a braid in keeping with his spiritual beliefs, the Defense Department said Monday.

Spokeswoman Sheena Carrigan said the new policy could conceivably cover other religious groups and be applied to dress and other items if they are an integral part of a person’s faith.

``It’s acknowledging that the (military) has to move with society if society changes,″ Carrigan said. ``It’s also acknowledging we’re a more diverse military than we were five, 10 or 15 years ago.″

Under the new policy, aboriginals can wear a single or double braid with a maximum length to the top of the armpit, or long hair to the edge of the shirt collar.

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