(June 21, 2017 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces) – Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan and Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Kent Hehr today issued the following statement:
“National Aboriginal Day was created in 1996 to celebrate the contributions that First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people have made towards Canadian culture and Canadian society. The Department of National Defence, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), and Veterans Affairs Canada are pleased to mark this important day.
“As many as 12 000 Indigenous Canadians served this country in the great conflicts and peace support missions of the 20th century; more than 500 gave their lives for Canada. Indigenous men and women have continued to risk their lives defending Canadian values of peace, freedom, and democracy in operations overseas. The efforts of Indigenous Veterans over the past 200 years have helped shape Canada.
“In the CAF, Indigenous people have become leaders in every field, from engineers and physiotherapists, to technicians and systems specialists. To achieve the goal of an even more diverse modern military, outreach to Indigenous communities includes summer programs for youth, high school co-op programs, and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College of Canada.
“Canada’s military is more effective thanks to the valued contributions of our Indigenous members, and the Veterans who came before them. But above all, this is a day for Canadians to take pride in the cultural diversity, traditions, and values that Indigenous people have given this country. We are stronger because of them.”