About Us

CDA Institute

The CDA Institute is a non-partisan registered charity organization with the mission to advance informed debate on national security issues, particularly those that pertain to national defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

We aim to foster a fact-based and rational approach to dialogue regarding Canadian defence, security, and foreign policy.

Who we are

The Conference of Defence Associations was founded in 1932 and today serves as an umbrella group for 40 member associations who represent over 400,000 active and retired members of the Canadian Armed Forces. 

In 1987, the CDA founded a separate Institute as a charitable organization with the mission to advance informed debate on national security issues, particularly those that pertain to national defence and the Canadian Armed Forces.

What we do

At the CDA Institute, we conduct in-house research and publish external contributors, organize student conferences, provide paid internships, subsidize student participation at our events, recognize excellence in the field by issuing awards such as the Vimy Award and the Captain Nichola Goddard Award, and we host events including our Metro Expert Series Webinars, the Ottawa Conference on Security & Defence, the Montreal Climate Security Summit, and the Vimy Gala.

Through these initiatives, we sustain, renew, and strengthen a community of practitioners, scholars, and policy-makers who care about Canada’s role in the world and are keen to learn from one another to help promote a rational and evidence-based approach to Canadian security and defence. We foster the development of tangible solutions to current and emerging security and defence challenges.

Our history

The Conference of Defence Associations came into being with the adoption of its constitution on 18 November 1932. Under this name, annual meetings would be held of representatives from the several Militia and Non-Permanent Forces’ Associations that made up the membership of CDA; membership was not open to any of the Permanent Force. Significantly, the Associations themselves were the members of the new body, not the individual delegates, with each Association having one vote. This arrangement assured the autonomy of the Associations themselves as well as guaranteed equality as some were allowed more delegates than others based on their size. The conferences would allow for the first time DND to meet the responsible officers of the Non-Permanent organizations and have Confidential discussions, an interesting side effect of which was that this impeded CDA and its Associations’ capacity to speak publicly on these matters. 


Board Members

Our board is comprised of community and national leaders in Canadian defence and security that help guide the strategic direction of the CDA Institute.

Our Fellows

The Conference of Defence Associations Fellowship Programme consists of experts and practitioners in academia, the diplomatic core, industry, government, and the armed forces. Our fellows create a core of expertise that the Institute draws upon for its research, analysis, and commentary on current affairs.

Our Partners

Partnering with the CDA Institute means positioning your business at the centre of Canada’s defence and security community and engaging proactively in thought leadership and solutions thinking on defence and security policy.

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