NORTH GRENVILLE, ON – Mayor Nancy Peckford issued the following statement on behalf of Council for Indigenous Veterans Day:
On behalf of the Municipality of North Grenville and Members of Council, I would like to take this opportunity to honour the contributions First Nations, Inuit and Metis have made to Canada’s war effort.
Today, there are currently over 2,700 Indigenous people serving in Canada’s military. We want to take the opportunity to 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.
Recognizing Indigenous Veterans Day on November 8 allows us to better understand and commemorate the many accomplishments and sacrifices of the estimated 12,000 Indigenous Peoples who volunteered their services in war and peacekeeping.
As we move towards reconciliation, this day is also an opportunity to reflect upon how horribly the Government of Canada treated Indigenous people who served. Many were forcibly enfranchised – particularly in the First and Second World Wars. This meant that by volunteering to serve, they were unwillingly stripped of their Indian Status and treaty rights which had multi-generational impacts on their spouses, children and grandchildren.
Further, despite serving on the front lines, Indigenous troops were also regularly denied access to full Veteran benefits and a wide variety of support programs that were made available to non-Indigenous veterans after returning from war. This was a profound injustice and totally unacceptable.
Yet, in spite of the historically complicated relationship with Canada, Indigenous Peoples continued to step up to serve and fight on the front lines, often at great peril to themselves with their loved ones never certain if they would return.
Out of respect for Indigenous Veterans Day, representatives from Municipal Council, The Royal Canadian Legion, and the local Indigenous community gathered for a flag ceremony, where Municipal Flags were lowered to half-mast.
Lest we forget.
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