A ve­hi­cle for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, pay­ing trib­ute to vet­er­ans

Nam­ing of new Armed Forces ve­hi­cle in Sy­ilx lan­guage high­light of WFN ser­vice for Abo­rig­i­nal vet­er­ans

The Daily Courier - - NEWS - By BARB AGUIAR

Mem­bers of the com­mu­nity and West­bank First Na­tion, along with lo­cal schoolchil­dren, gath­ered at the WFN vet­er­ans mon­u­ment Thurs­day morn­ing to mark Na­tional Abo­rig­i­nal Vet­er­ans Day and see the B.C. Dra­goons un­veil the name of one of their new tac­ti­cal ar­moured pa­trol ve­hi­cles bear­ing the Sy­ilx trans­la­tion of the name.

The cer­e­mony in­cluded prayer, song and read­ing the names of 20 Abo­rig­i­nal vet­er­ans from the Okana­gan Na­tion.

The ar­moured ve­hi­cle is the most re­cent ad­di­tion to the Cana­dian Armed Forces, with one of the most ver­sa­tile mod­ern plat­forms. While its pri­mary role is re­con­nais­sance, Maj. Kevin Mead of the Armed Forces as­sured the crowd it is equipped to fight.

The Dra­goons are rooted in cavalry and have a tra­di­tion of nam­ing their horses.

The tra­di­tion has evolved with ev­ery ar­moured ve­hi­cle, whether in ser­vice or a mon­u­ment, bear­ing a name rep­re­sent­ing hon­our, pur­pose and achieve­ment that can en­dure through his­tory.

“This may be the first time that an Abo­rig­i­nal name will be given to a Cana­dian Armed Forces ve­hi­cle,” said West­bank First Na­tion Coun. Thomas Konek.

The nam­ing goes a long way to­ward rec­on­cil­i­a­tion as well as rec­og­niz­ing and hon­our­ing vet­er­ans for their ser­vice, he added.

The ve­hi­cle was for­mally named Dra­goon and fea­tures the Sy­ilx trans­la­tion of the word. In English, Dra­goon means a cavalry man, while in Sy­ilx, the name trans­lates to a sol­dier who rides a horse.

“In ei­ther lan­guage, (it’s) a war­rior de­serv­ing of re­spect and rev­er­ence on the bat­tle­field and off,” said Mead.

Konek, a vet­eran who served in the U.S. Air Force from 2001 to 2005, said the Okana­gan lan­guage name of the ve­hi­cle is im­por­tant be­cause it rec­og­nizes all the Abo­rig­i­nal vet­er­ans who have served in the Cana­dian Armed Forces.

Konek added the Sy­ilx name for the ve­hi­cle speaks vol­umes in terms of rec­og­niz­ing the tra­di­tional ter­ri­tory oc­cu­pied by the Kelowna de­tach­ment of the B.C. Dra­goons.

Mead said a num­ber of First Na­tions peo­ple have served with the reg­i­ment, work­ing to­gether as part of the greater com­mu­nity.

He men­tioned Pte. Ju­lian, a First Na­tion sol­der who re­cently joined the reg­i­ment, and Capt. Joshua Trowsse-Free­man, the bri­gade’s Abo­rig­i­nal and First Na­tions li­ai­son and project man­ager for B.C.

More than 7,000 First Na­tions mem­bers served dur­ing the First and Sec­ond World Wars and the Korean War, as well as an un­known num­ber of Inuit, Metis and other In­dige­nous peo­ple.

The in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Abo­rig­i­nal Vet­er­ans Day took place in 1994 in Win­nipeg and has spread across Canada.

BARB AGUIAR/Spe­cial to The Daily Courier

West­bank First Na­tion Coun. Thomas Konek ad­dresses those at­tend­ing the WFN’s Na­tional Abo­rig­i­nal Vet­er­ans Day cer­e­monies Thurs­day morn­ing.

BARB AGUIAR/Spe­cial to The Daily Courier

West­bank First Na­tion Coun. Thomas Konek, left, shakes hands with Maj. Kevin Mead of the Cana­dian Armed Forces af­ter un­veil­ing the Sy­ilx trans­la­tion of the name of the B.C. Dra­goons’ new ar­moured ve­hi­cle.

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