Statement – Ministers of Veterans Affairs, Indigenous Services, National Defence, Crown-Indigenous Relations, and Northern Affairs mark Indigenous Veterans Day
OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 8, 2023 /CNW/ – Today, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence; the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence; the Honourable Gary Anandasangaree, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; and the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, issued the following statement:
“On Indigenous Veterans Day, we honour the thousands of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis who have served in Canada’s Armed Forces.
“With courage and dedication, Indigenous Peoples have made important contributions to Canadian military efforts, both at home and abroad. These Indigenous women and men left their communities and often travelled great distances to volunteer for service, and to fight many of the important battles that mark our military history.
“We recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice, like Cameron Brant from the Six Nations, who was killed while commanding a platoon in 1915, near Ypres, Belgium, while leading a counter-attack into enemy trenches. We also salute those like Corporal (Retd) Russ Moses, a Korean War Veteran and survivor of the Mohawk Institute, a residential school in Brantford, Ontario. In the Second World War, Indigenous soldiers like Charles “Checker” Tomkins translated sensitive radio messages into Cree, so they could not be understood if they were intercepted by the enemy. More recently, Sarah Leo, an Inuk woman, served for 21 years as a mobile support equipment operator and was deployed in the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans. In 2019, she was appointed Honorary Colonel of 444 Combat Support Squadron, located at 5 Wing Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador.
“This year, as we mark the 75th anniversary of United Nations peacekeeping, we also remember the contributions of Indigenous Veterans’ to Canada’s efforts.
“Though they served with bravery and made sacrifices for our country, many Indigenous people endured discrimination and systemic racism while serving. Sadly, these discriminatory practices too often continued after service, when Indigenous Veterans were often denied the same benefits, honours and respect as other Veterans.
“Today, thousands of Indigenous people continue to enlist in the Canadian Armed Forces, and many are currently serving Canada at home and abroad, in the Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, Special Forces, and the Canadian Army – including the Canadian Rangers.
“We owe Indigenous Veterans immense gratitude for their service. Today, we invite all Canadians to take time to reflect on and remember the significant contributions and bravery of Indigenous Peoples to Canada’s military efforts, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and to learn more about Indigenous contributions to our military history.
Lest we forget.”
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada – Ottawa