Indigenous veterans remembered
Aboriginal soldiers deserve special thanks, minister says
OTTAWA— Indigenous people across Canada remembered fallen ancestors and community members with prayers and offerings of thanks Tuesday, as they marked National Aboriginal Veterans Day.
It is estimated that more than 12,000 aboriginal people joined the Canadian military during the First and Second World Wars and Korea. More than 500 were killed. Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr says more First Nations, Inuit and Métis served in those wars as a percentage of their total population than any other ethnic group in Canada.
Hehr, who laid a wreath during a ceremony at the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa, says aboriginal Canadians deserve a special thanks for their contributions to Canada’s defence. National Aboriginal Veterans Day has been growing in size and scope since it was first inaugurated by Winnipeg’s city council in 1994, though it is still not officially recognized by the federal government.
There is a burgeoning debate about what the day should represent. Some say it should recognize that many indigenous veterans were denied the services offered to non-aboriginal people when they returned from Europe and Korea. But others want it to remain focused on those who died.
More than 12,000 aboriginal people joined the Canadian military during the First and Second World Wars and Korea