In Vancouver, hundreds gathered to honour Indigenous veterans who fought during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.
Nov. 8 is significant for Indigenous communities in Canada as it marks National Indigenous Veterans Day.
Veteran Robert Nahanee, who served 12 years with the Canadian Military, attended today’s ceremony in Vancouver to honour his uncles who served during the Second World War with only one returning home.
“I want to remember our ancestors who fought for this country many times. A lot of people ask us why we got everything free? We don’t get anything free,” said Nahanee.
“We stood with the English, we stood with the French, and we stood up in front of the Americans in 1812… our people did that.”
W̱SÁNEĆ Elder Murray Sampson spent the day reflecting on the many Indigenous veterans he met throughout his lifetime. He remembers hearing the sacrifices they made despite the wrongs that were committed against Indigenous people in Canada.
“What they [survivors] went through as a child and then to be to be shipped off to war to defend a country that didn’t care about them […] even though they were disliked in a racial way, they still defended this country in honour of who they were as Native veterans,” said Sampson.
Ken Hall is a part of the CFB Esquimalt Indigenous Advisory team that spent the morning reflecting on the sacrifices Indigenous veterans made and the challenges that trickled into their lives well after returning home from war.
“They would lose their what was called Indian Status when they enlisted, and when they came back, they did also experience a lot more challenges than non-Indigenous members as far as obtaining veteran’s benefits,” said Hall.