Today we honour Canada’s Indigenous Veterans. While Indigenous communities have always contributed to peace keeping efforts, they have not always been recognized and celebrated for it. As far back as the War of 1812, they have joined, served and sacrificed. Today we pay tribute for the bravery and sacrifice they offered and continue to offer.
It may be of interest to learn that Indigenous peoples have had to overcome unique challenges in enlisting. From having to travel great distances in order to enlist, learning another language to communicate with their fellow soldiers, and even rampant discrimination/racism. Indigenous Veterans have overcome a great deal to even be part of our Armed Forces. Additionally, this special Memorial Day was created because prior to 1994 Indigenous Veterans were not recognized in Remembrance Day activities.
Despite these difficulties, Indigenous men contributed invaluable skill and insight to the Armed Forces.
“Many Indigenous men brought valuable skills with them when they joined the military. Patience, stealth and marksmanship were well-honed traits for those who had come from communities where hunting was a cornerstone of daily life. These attributes helped many of these soldiers become successful snipers (military sharpshooters) and reconnaissance scouts (men who stealthily gathered information on enemy positions). Indigenous soldiers earned at least 50 decorations for bravery during the war. Henry Louis Norwest, a Métis from Alberta and one of the most famous snipers of the entire Canadian Corps, held a divisional sniping record of 115 fatal shots and was awarded the Military Medal and bar for his courage under fire.” Excerpt from here.
We want to extend our deepest gratitude to the Indigenous people who laid their lives on the line for freedom. We honour their sacrifice and thank them and their families for the bravery they showed despite many obstacles.
Lest We Forget.