OTTAWA, June 20, 2015 /CNW/ - The Honourable Erin O'Toole, Minister of Veterans Affairs, today issued the following statement to mark National Aboriginal Day.
"Today we pause to remember and honour the immense contributions, sacrifices and impact made by Aboriginal Canadians in defining our country and military history.
"In the War of 1812, First Nations answered the call to war as allies to help protect Canada from advancing American forces. Aboriginal warriors Tecumseh, John Norton and John Brant were instrumental in helping lead a united native, Canadian and British force in the eventual defeat of the Americans.
"During the First World War, Tom Charles Longboat, an Onondaga from the Six Nations Grand River Reserve and champion long distance runner, left his racing career behind to enlist with the 107th Pioneer Battalion in France and become a dispatch carrier.
"Tommy Prince, a Manitoba Ojibwa and one of Canada's most-decorated Aboriginal war Veterans, served in both the Second World War and the Korean War. A member of the famed First Special Service Force, the "Devil's Brigade," he was awarded the Military Medal by King George VI for bravery during a mission in Italy where he provided invaluable intelligence on German positions with no regard for his own safety. He was also awarded the United States Silver Star with ribbon for his courageous service during the Second World War.
"The National Aboriginal Veterans Monument in Ottawa is a sacred memorial to the brave Aboriginal Canadians who have served our country over the years, including the more than 7,000 who enlisted and more than 500 who died in service during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War.
"Their contributions have also been immortalized in the names of Canadian warships, like HMCS Iroquois, Cayuga and Huron.
"Today, we honour the immense contribution and price paid by Aboriginal Canadians who have served and continue to serve our country during times of conflict and peace."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Martin Magnan, Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, 613-996-4649; Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468