(Edmonton) – The City of Edmonton and the Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta hosted a special commemorative event for National Indigenous Veterans Day at Edmonton’s City Hall on November 8.
National Indigenous Veterans Day, held every year on November 8, recognizes and honours the important contributions made by First Nations, Inuit and Métis veterans in service to Canada. The separate day of remembrance for Indigenous veterans was initiated in 1994 to ensure their sacrifices and contributions received proper recognition both across the country and across generations of Canadians. Many Indigenous veterans faced hardships when they returned from service and did not receive the same benefits or recognition as other veterans.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi brought greetings on behalf of the City of Edmonton and presented a proclamation to the Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta. The event’s program also featured speakers from Indigenous partner organizations, including Chuck Isaacs, CD, President, Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta; Grand Chief Desmond Bull, Confederacy of Treaty No. 6 Nations; and Sarah Wolfe, Citizens’ Representative, Fort Edmonton Métis District 9, Otipemisiwak Métis Government of the Métis Nation within Alberta.
“Today’s event underscores the shared vision of a City where recognition and respect are given for the outstanding contributions Indigenous veterans have made to preserve the freedom of all Canadians,” said City Manager Andre Corbould. “It’s important to recognize and honour the service, courage and sacrifices of all veterans at home, around the world and across generations.”
The commemorative event opened with a prayer from Elder Gladys MacDonald, a lighting of the qulliq (an Inuit lamp that provides light and warmth to the Earth) with a teaching from Inuk Elder Edna Elias, and a cultural celebration and performances from the Treaty Six Singers, Métis fiddler Brianna Lizotte, and Inuit dance and drumming duo Jaynine McCrae and Connie Kanayok McCrae.
“Indigenous Veterans Day was first celebrated in Canada in 1994. Since 1994, the celebrations have expanded across Canada. There has been a renewed push over the past few years to work toward reconciliation. This year, the City of Edmonton has shown great leadership and large gains towards reconciliation. We, the Indigenous Veterans, have warm hearts for our Ancestors who would not have been included in local celebrations. We look forward to continued positive steps towards a final resolution and possibly a fully inclusive Remembrance Day, a day where we stand with our brothers and sisters, united in honouring all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Chuck Isaacs, CD, President, Aboriginal Veterans Society of Alberta.
Manitoba was the first province to recognize National Indigenous Veterans Day on November 8, 1994, and it is now recognized in every province and territory across Canada. Approximately 12,000 Indigenous and Métis men and women served in Canada’s war efforts during the First World War, Second World War and the Korean War.
The City of Edmonton’s journey to build and strengthen relationships with Indigenous Peoples is guided and inspired by the Elder-shared concept of wahigicicobi, a lethka Nakoda word meaning “kinship relationships”, and is demonstrated through the City’s Indigenous Framework.