Commander Canadian Army marks Aboriginal Veterans Day

Statement / November 8, 2019 / Project number: 19-0305

November 8, 2019 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre, Commander Canadian Army, issued the following statement to mark National Aboriginal Veterans Day:

“I am honoured today, as Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples, to recognize and celebrate the many significant contributions of Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis people – past and present – who have served in our nation’s military.

“Over 12,000 people from Canada’s Indigenous communities served at home and abroad during the conflicts of the first half of the 20th century. One in three able-bodied Indigenous men enlisted to fight in the First World War. Many Indigenous people travelled great distances and faced the culture shock of unfamiliar environments in order to enlist. Traditional hunting and warrior skills proved invaluable in and around the battlefield, and many Indigenous members served as reconnaissance scouts and snipers.

“Indigenous women and men participated and distinguished themselves in every major Canadian campaign of the Second World War, from the long and treacherous battle on the Italian peninsula to the D-Day landings at Juno Beach. Their valiant support was also evident on the home front, where Inuit communities along the coast of Labrador helped to disrupt German U-boat crews’ ability to land automated weather stations.

“The Cree language was used to transmit secret messages and protect critical information from enemy interception -- a critical role that is now finally being afforded long overdue recognition.

“Indigenous communities generously contributed to the war efforts in whatever ways they could, from donating money and food to knitting blankets or clothing. The commitment and heartfelt support from Indigenous communities across Canada and the fierce bravery of Indigenous members in battle cannot be understated. Numerous members were decorated for their valour.

“First Nations, Inuit and Métis people continued to serve valiantly during the Korean Conflict and take part in Canada’s many peacekeeping missions around the world. They remain valued members of the defence community today as they continue their challenging but rewarding service to Canada.

“The Indigenous Peoples of Canada bring a proud warrior tradition and an ethos of bravery and honour to our military. Today, we acknowledge their sacrifices and service throughout our history and look towards a future together, where First Nations, Inuit and Métis members continue to thrive as valued members of Canada’s military family.

“I invite all Canadians to join us in honouring Indigenous Veterans today.”

Lieutenant-General Wayne Eyre
Commander Canadian Army and Defence Team Champion for Indigenous Peoples

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