Aboriginal Veterans Day was established in Manitoba in 1994 and has since spread across the country and is now known as Indigenous Veterans Day. Recognizing Indigenous Veterans Day on November 8 allows us to better understand and commemorate the many accomplishments and sacrifices made by Indigenous Peoples in war and peacekeeping.
“On Indigenous Veterans Day, we remember the diverse contributions by thousands of Indigenous Peoples who chose to serve in Canada’s military operations. Unfortunately, despite their efforts and their sacrifice, most were never properly recognized when they returned home,” said Mayor Nancy Peckford.
Today, there are over 2,700 Indigenous members in our military forces.
“We thank the thousands of First Nations, Inuit and Métis who have played a critical role in Canada's military and continue to make Canada proud through their service at home and abroad,” added Councillor Kristin Strackerjan. “As we move towards reconciliation in Canada, it is important to recognize the significant contributions Indigenous Peoples have made to our nation’s war effort.”
Contributions by Indigenous Veterans during WWI and WWII
Corporal Francis Pegahmagabow, an Ojibwa from the Perry Island Band in Ontario, earned the first bar to his military medal in November 1917 for his contribution in the First World War at the Battle of Passchendaele.
Tommy Price, one of the most decorated Indigenous Canadian solider in history, posed as a local farmer to repair severed communications wires in full view of enemy troops during World War II, and later served in the Korean War.
Charles “Checker” Tomkins, from Alberta, translated sensitive radio messages into Cree during World War II so could not be understood by the enemy. Another Cree-speaking “code talker” would then translate the message.
The participation of Indigenous veterans in the Canadian military over the years has been and continues to remain significant.
Lest we forget.
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Indigenous Veterans Day 2021 - Lowering of the Flag Ceremony
L-R: Councillor Doreen O'Sullivan, Mayor Nancy Peckford, Finian Paibomsai, Phil Wiseman, Councillor John Barclay, Lynn Paibomesai, Councillor Kristin Strackerjan