ARCHIVED - A Message from the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces’ Champion for Aboriginal Peoples

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Commander's Message / May 15, 2015 / Project number: 15-0073

May 15, 2015

“Aboriginal Awareness Week begins May 19, 2015. As the Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces’ (CAF’s) Champion for Aboriginal Peoples, I welcome this opportunity to express my gratitude to the First Peoples of this land for their past and current contributions to this country and to Canada’s Defence Team, both military and civilian.

The tradition of military service found in First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures and their rich heritage of courage and heroism means Aboriginal Peoples have been at the front lines of this country’s major conflicts throughout our history. During the War of 1812, more than 10 000 First Nations and Métis warriors under renowned chief Tecumseh fought alongside the British and Canadian militias, an alliance that proved critical in the shaping of Canada.

Despite early barriers to Aboriginal Peoples’ participation, that tradition of service and sacrifice continued in the First and Second World Wars, when thousands of Aboriginal men and women volunteered to serve in the CAF. War heroes such as Sergeant Francis Pegahmagabow and Sergeant Thomas Prince exemplify the proud warrior spirit and deep sense of patriotism so important to First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures.

Sgt Pegahmagabow fought for his country in the First World War and came home to champion Aboriginal rights, giving us a moving example of this year’s Aboriginal Awareness Week theme, “Self-Determination in Action.’’

The Aboriginal Peoples of Canada have continued to answer the call of duty whenever our country calls. We give our eternal thanks to those who paid the ultimate price in serving our nation, such as Master Corporal Kristal Giesebrecht, a member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, who died in an incident involving an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2010.

The CAF belongs to all the peoples of Canada. Ensuring inclusivity and respect for all members helps this organization stand ready to meet challenges in an increasingly complex world. I recognize and value the ways in which the unique cultural, spiritual and traditional identities of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples enrich the CAF’s military ethos.

Please join me in celebrating the culture, history and contributions of the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada during Aboriginal Awareness Week.”

Lieutenant-General Marquis Hainse, CMM, MSC, CD
Commander Canadian Army and Department of National Defence and Canadian Armed Forces’ Champion for Aboriginal Peoples

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