‘They’re our royalty’: Hundreds march in downtown Vancouver for Indigenous Veterans Day – BC

Sergeant Alan Drouane joined the Canadian Army in 1950 at the age of 16, destined for the Korean War.

This Ojibway teenager is in the same infantry battalion as the decorated Aboriginal war hero Sergeant. Tommy Prince, who thinks he saved his life overseas.

“He knew I was underage,” Derouan recalled Tuesday, standing next to the monument in Vancouver’s Victory Square.

“If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t be here today – his teachings and his skills in the military.”

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Former Great Chief Reflects on National Indigenous Veterans Day

Hundreds marched through downtown Vancouver to lay wreaths and flowers on National Aboriginal Veterans Day. Celebrated annually on November 8, it honors not only the contributions and sacrifices of Indigenous peoples to the war effort, but also Canada’s peacekeeping operations.

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Drouane said he thought of his fellow veterans on Tuesday, as well as Prince, who first appeared on Canadian postage stamps in October.

“When we got home, we didn’t get the help we needed to get over these bad memories and dreams. I still suffer from them,” Drouane said calmly.

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Manitoba Indigenous Veterans Day: ‘We must remember’

More than 7,000 Aboriginal people served in the First and Second World Wars, according to official government records, and hundreds of them served in the Korean War. The true number was higher—thousands of those deployed had no government-issued identities, and the recorders at the time did not include the Métis.

In addition to the horrors of combat, Indigenous service members face many challenges that their comrades do not, including racism, language and cultural barriers.

According to Veterans Affairs Canada, they bring valuable skills to the war, including expert marksmanship and their language, which are used to protect secret messages from enemy interception.

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Manitoba Indigenous Veterans Day: ‘We must remember’

However, when they returned home, Indigenous veterans did not receive any of the benefits that other veterans enjoyed, such as access to loans or free farmland resettlement, read 2019 report Submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs.

They were denied basic civil rights, and after World War I, the federal government expropriated 35,000 to 75,000 hectares of native land to non-native veterans.

It took Derouin 18 years to regain the Indigenous status he was stripped of when he joined the army, but he said one of the most hurtful realities he faced was that the local regiment did not welcome him.

“The Legion should be our home when we come home as veterans, soldiers and our returning Aboriginal veterans – they don’t allow us to join the Legion,” he told Global News.

“(Injustice) is still happening today – we have veterans lying on the streets here, homeless. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be half of this country today.”

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Indigenous Veterans Day Services in Halifax

Brothers Richard Campbell and Lawrence Paul marched on Tuesday to honor all veterans, including their father, Lawrence Paul Sr. Their late father joined the U.S. military after escaping boarding school in Canada and moving to Washington state, they said.

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“He was beautiful inside and out. He stood up for everyone,” said Paul, who carried the Musqueen Aboriginal flag at the ceremony.

“It’s really an honor to do this every year in honor of my father, in honor of all the veterans and those who are still serving today.”

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Aboriginal Veterans Day Service at Mi’kmaw Aboriginal Friendship Centre in Halifax

Lizette Paul, who carried a wooden talking stick for husband Kenneth Robertson, agreed. She added that Robertson came from a family of Kerry veterans who made many sacrifices for Canadians.

“It’s such an honor to be with them. They are our royals because they stand up for us and future generations,” Paul said.

“If they were lucky, they survived, but their lives were different. They were suffering from post-traumatic stress and being away from their families… This is a time in history that we need to know more about and understand, not just a day of the year.”

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West Bank First Nations commemorate Indigenous Veterans Day

Complaints of injustice by Aboriginal veterans were not taken seriously until the late 1990s, and in 2002 Ottawa agreed to serve as “everyone at war,” according to a 2019 report.

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Last year, however, marked the first national Aboriginal Veterans Day in Canadian history, when the federal flag was lowered for Aboriginal veterans. Other injustices remain unresolved today.

“Indigenous veterans and their families have fought to receive the recognition and remembrance they deserve at every step of our shared history,” B.C. Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Murray Rankin said in a statement Tuesday. .”

“Today, we collectively acknowledge and remember more than 200 years of military service in Indigenous communities across the country…On this gloomy day, we remember those who never came home. We also remember those whose service changed their homes forever . Lest we forget.”

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