Event : National Aboriginal Veterans Day
Date: November 8, 2020

Beaded poppy in honour of Indigenous veterans – Vashti Etzel (Dene Artist)

She:kon, Tan’si, Aaniin, Boozhoo, Kwe Kwe, Tanshi, Wâciyê, Asujutilli, Hello, Bonjour,

The Brock University Indigenous community would like to bring attention to Indigenous contributions in various wars that Canada has taken apart in the last 110 years. Approximately 12,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit men and women volunteered for the war efforts in the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Cold War, and the war in Afghanistan. Exact numbers are unknown, due to a lack of self-identifying procedures at the time. Nevertheless, a confirmed 500 Indigenous volunteers residing in Canada lost their lives to protect their communities and Turtle Island. On Nov. 8, National Aboriginal Veterans Day, we honour their service and remember their sacrifice.

To learn more about the role Indigenous volunteers had in the various wars throughout the last century, explore the links provided at the end of this letter.

In the article on the Canadian Government’s Veterans page, there is information about the impact Indigenous soldiers, scouts, nurses, and telegraphers had during the wars. This included superb marksmanship, acts of heroism, and the utilization of Indigenous languages to communicate classified messages between allies.

In a documentary from the National Film Board of Canada, stories of the wars are expanded while highlighting the unfair treatment Indigenous veterans experienced when they returned home from the wars. It is a stain on Canada’s history that included the loss of status, land, and some rights for Indigenous veterans who served for Canada during the wars. On Nov. 8, we must acknowledge these sacrifices and the mistreatment that followed as we work toward the goals of reconciliation and decolonization here at Brock University and across Canada.

On Nov. 8, 1994, National Aboriginal Veterans Day was inaugurated in Winnipeg. In June 2001, the Governor General unveiled a monument in Ottawa dedicated to Aboriginal Veterans’ contributions in war and peacekeeping operations. On Nov. 8, take the time to learn more about the Indigenous contributions to the wars, and if you can, thank an Indigenous veteran for their service.