The Thunderbird has been the symbol of Military Police in the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 45 years. In 1967, with unification of the three armed services into a single organization on the horizon (Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force), the Insignia Steering Group (ISG) recommended the use of the aboriginal totemic Thunderbird as the symbol for the newly-created Security Branch.
According to one of the members of the ISG, the idea for the Thunderbird as an appropriate symbol was originated by Captain Alexander Kinnear, a past president of the Canadian Military Intelligence Association (CMIA). Captain Kinnear donated to the CMIA an original wood carving of a First Nations totem pole in the form of a Thunderbird that had been created by noted Canadian aboriginal artist Henry Hunt.
You can learn much more about the reasons behind the selection of the Thunderbird as our symbol by visiting our history page.
Over the next few months, we will be posting a series of nine "Legends of the Thunderbird", which were first recorded by German anthropologist Dr. Franz Boas (1858-1942), who spent four years living with aboriginal Canadians of Canada’s pacific northwest and collecting their legends and folklore. These legends were originally published in The Thunderbird Journal, which was the official Security Branch magazine from 1982 until 1998.
We hope you enjoy reading these unique legends, and draw the same parallels between the legends of the Thunderbird and the role of the military police in Canada that ISG did in 1967.