OTTAWA, Nov. 8, 2017 /CNW/ - Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O'Regan, Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott and Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett today issued the following joint statement to mark Aboriginal Veterans Day:
"Today we honour the First Nations, Inuit and Métis men and women who have served with pride and distinction, and express our thanks to those whose dedication continues in military and peace operations at home and abroad.
This day was first observed in 1994 to honour the contributions and sacrifices that Indigenous peoples have made while serving in uniform. People such as Chief Joe Dreaver, of Mistawasis Cree Band in Saskatchewan, who served in both world wars. After earning the Military Medal, an award for bravery in the field, in the First World War he immediately re-enlisted at the outbreak of the Second World War, leaving his farm and bringing 17 men with him, including three of his sons.
We remember John Shiwak, an Inuit soldier born in Rigolet, Labrador who enlisted in July 1915 and was part of the Newfoundland Regiment. He reached the front in France on 24 July 1916, three weeks after the regiment's devastating losses at Beaumont-Hamel. During the next 15 months of trench warfare, he would impress all as an exceptional scout and marksman. Shiwak's actions in these difficult conditions earned him promotion to lance-corporal in April 1917.
And we remember Henry Louis Norwest, a Métis marksman from Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. As one of the most famous Canadian snipers in the First World War, he was recognized for his courage.
Indigenous peoples continue to contribute in today's Canadian Armed Forces. The 5,000 Canadian Rangers, a part of the CAF Reserves working in remote regions, speak 26 different languages and dialects, many Indigenous. Military outreach to Indigenous communities includes summer programs for youth such as Bold Eagle, Raven, Black Bear, and the Junior Rangers; high school co-op programs; and the Aboriginal Leadership Opportunity Year at the Royal Military College of Canada.
When called to serve, Indigenous peoples responded. First Nations, Inuit and Métis continue to risk their lives in service, defending values of peace, freedom, and democracy.
As we move forward in our journey of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, partnership and cooperation, their sacrifices and accomplishments will continue to be remembered. We encourage all Canadians to join us in honouring Indigenous Veterans today."
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SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations: Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468, [email protected]; Alex Wellstead, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Department of National Defence, Phone: 613-996-2353, Toll-Free: 1-866-377-0811, Email: [email protected]; Media Relations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Phone: 819-953-1160