Remembrance Day poem to be read in aboriginal language
This is the first time 'Act of Remembrance' will be read at the national ceremony in Metis language.
A Métis veteran from Saskatchewan is set to make history today.
Alex Maurice, from Beauval, Sask., will read the "Act of Remembrance" at the national Remembrance Day ceremony in Ottawa.
He will be reading the poem in Michif — a language unique to Métis people in Western Canada. It will mark the first time the poem has been read at the national ceremony in an aboriginal language.
"I felt privileged to have this phone call from Royal Canadian Legion and the official letter. Basically, it's not for me. It's basically honouring and respecting all veterans, not just aboriginals but all veterans," said Maurice.
Maurice will read the poem with Korean War veterans and aboriginal veterans.
Traditionally, the poem is read in English and French.
"Veterans, you know, are of all ethnicities. At the same time, yes, it is an honour. And it's finally come forward and recognizing that Métis veterans — we exist." said Maurice, who added veterans will be on his mind as he reads the poem.
Aboriginal veterans were honoured by First Nations leaders across Canada on Aboriginal Veterans Day — Nov. 8.
The Riverton and District Friendship Centre’ will receive $2,500 for a sod-turning event for the soon-to-be-constructed Aboriginal Veterans’ Monument. The new memorial will be dedicated to First Nation, Métis and Inuit Veterans while also honouring all Veterans who served. The event will take place November 8, Aboriginal Veterans Day, in Riverton.
“I am proud to honour the many contributions of Aboriginal people who have served with distinction in the Canadian Forces at home and abroad,” said Grand Chief Harvey Yesno. “I encourage communities across our Nation to fly the NAN Veterans Flag and take time to give thanks for the dedication and sacrifices made by all veterans and current members of the armed forces on battlefields and peacekeeping missions the world over.”
Yesno attended a ceremony with the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group at the Rinker Lake Forward Attack Base near Armstrong on Nov. 8 during their annual search and rescue exercise. NAN also supported Nov. 11 Remembrance Day ceremonies in NAN communities, Fort William First Nation and urban centres across northwestern Ontario.
“Many of our people have stepped forward in defence of Canada and its interests during global conflicts and peacekeeping operations,” Yesno said. “That tradition is carried on today as many of our members serving with the Canadian Rangers are part-time reserve members of the Canadian Forces, providing vital lifesaving services across our territory.”
Although the Nov. 8 ceremonies began in Manitoba in the 1990s to honour the contributions of Aboriginal people in the Canadian Forces, ceremonies are now held across Canada.
More than 7,000 First Nation soldiers served with the Canadian Forces in World War I, World War II and the Korean War, with several earning commissions as officers and many serving as battle-hardened platoon leaders and combat instructors.
About 4,000 First Nations soldiers, or about 35 per cent of all status Indian males of military age, served during World War I, according to a Department of Indian Affairs annual report by Duncan Campbell Scott in 1919. At least 50 First Nation soldiers were decorated for bravery on the battlefield during World War I.
Northwest Territories Regional Chief Bill Erasmus called on Canadians to reflect on the contributions of First Nation soldiers and military personnel.
“This year has a special resonance as the anniversary of the start of World War I and we acknowledge the strength, skill and bravery of First Nation veterans who fought for the freedom of all of us despite facing many barriers,” Erasmus said. “Some of our people who enlisted travelled for days from remote communities in order to join the effort to protect this land that we have always called home. We acknowledge all the First Nations men and women and all citizens contributing to the armed forces in the past and today.”
More than 1,200 Aboriginal members currently serve in the Canadian Forces at home and overseas, representing more than 640 bands and 55 languages and dialects belonging to 11 linguistic families.
Erasmus also acknowledged the two soldiers — Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent — killed on duty in Canada in October.
“We remember those who lost their lives for our freedom, and continue to pay respect to all members of the armed forces,” Eraasmus said. “We also remind everyone that Canadian parliamentary democracy is founded on the strong relationship between First Nations treaties, including pre-Confederation treaties and other constructive arrangements, that exist with legal force in Canada. The legal rights of First Nations must be remembered and understood at this important time, lest we forget.”
CHIEFS OF ONTARIO HONOURS CONTRIBUTIONS OF FIRST NATIONS PEOPLES ON ABORIGINAL VETERANS DAY AND REMEMBRANCE DAY
THUNDER BAY, ON (November 8, 2014) — On the occasion of Aboriginal Veterans Day, Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy joined the 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group in a ceremony honouring First Nation Veterans.
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy stated, “Despite not having the legal right to vote until decades after the Second World War, First Nations played a special role in the major wars which helped shape Canada. We honour First Nation Veterans today, as well as all Veterans on Remembrance Day.”
First Nations had been in a formal relationship with the British for 150 years by the time World War 1 was declared as a result of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 and the Treaty of Niagara of 1763. Starting with the American Revolution (from 1775 – 1783) and the War of 1812—First Nations were always prepared to volunteer, fight and protect the freedoms and democracy of all people. Many served with great distinction and were recognized for their bravery and special contributions.
First Nations across Ontario will be taking the opportunity today and on Remembrance Day to acknowledge the contributions and sacrifices of First Nations people who voluntarily served in Canada’s Armed Forces in times of war and peacekeeping.
Recently, the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte compiled a list and commemorated over 100 individuals who contributed to the success of World War 1 and the commitment to a long-standing alliance with the British Crown. This Remembrance Day, Beausoleil First Nation, Veterans and members of the Christian Island community will be dedicating and unveiling a Memorial in their community.
In times of war, the efforts of First Nations peoples have been proportionally higher than any other groups in Canada. Aboriginal Veterans Groups have estimated that more than 12,000 First Nation people voluntarily enlisted to ser ve in the First and Second World Wars as well as the Korean War. Moose Cree First Nation and Moosonee had the highest record of service per capita with 111 enlisted men serving in both World Wars.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.
Remembering Aboriginal Veterans: Forgotten Warriors Film
Description from NFB: Although they could not be conscripted, when World War II was declared, thousands of Canadian Aboriginal men and women enlisted and fought alongside their non-Native countrymen. While they fought for freedom for others, ironically the Aboriginal soldiers were not allowed equality in their own country. As a reward for fighting, the Canadian Soldier Veteran's Settlement Act allowed returning soldiers to buy land at a cheap price. However, many of the Aboriginal soldiers were never offered nor told about the land entitlement. Some returned home to find the government had seized parts of their own reserve land to compensate non-Native war veterans. Whole First Nations communities still mourn the loss of the thousands of acres of prime land they were forced to surrender. With narrator Gordon Tootoosis providing an historical overview, Aboriginal veterans poignantly share their unforgettable war memories and their healing process. We join them as they travel back to Europe to perform a sacred circle for friends left behind, but not forgotten, in foreign grave sites. Director: Loretta Todd, 85 min.