OTTAWA, Sept. 10, 2019 /CNW/ - The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence, issued the following statement today to recognize the pre- and post-Second World War experiences of Métis Veterans:
"Métis across Canada valiantly participated in military service, and their courage and contributions are a source of honour to their families, their communities, and to all Canadians. They served in the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and as recently as in Afghanistan as well as in other conflicts and humanitarian efforts around the globe.
"Looking back, it is clear that the pre- and post-Second World War experiences some Métis Veterans faced may have negatively affected their successful re-establishment in civilian life following the Second World War. Many experienced prejudice, poverty, and a relative lack of pre-war education, vocational skills, and work experiences. We apologize that the benefits offered to Veterans after the war were not well designed to meet Métis Veterans' specific needs. For example, many Métis Veterans did not possess the required pre-requisites to access education and training.
"We regret that our country has taken three-quarters of a century to address the concerns of Métis Veterans who joined Canada's call to arms to enter the Second World War. They left this country not knowing the enemy they would face, nor the countries and people they were to defend. They were, nonetheless, instrumental in Canada's action to protect basic rights and freedoms around the globe.
"Addressing these longstanding concerns is a significant step forward in the process of reconciliation with the Métis people. When the Government of Canada and the Métis Nation signed the Canada-Métis Nation Accord in April 2017, we agreed that Métis Veterans were a priority area that needed to be addressed.
"To this end, I am pleased that the Government of Canada has allocated $30 million to recognize Métis Veterans of the Second World War for their pre- and post-war experiences and to support commemorative initiatives that promote awareness and appreciation of Métis Veterans' sacrifices and contributions among the Métis People as well as the general Canadian public.
"On behalf of all Canadians, we thank the Métis who served our country valiantly during the Second World War. They deserve our respect and we say thank you to them, their families, and the Métis Nation for the sacrifices that they made."
David Chartrand, the Minister of Veterans Affairs, Métis National Council and the President of the Manitoba Métis Federation, responded on behalf of the Métis National Council:
"I thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Minister Lawrence MacAulay for today's statement and apology to our Métis Veterans and the legacy left for future generations. They have shown great leadership taking action to correct the wrongs done to our Métis Nation Veterans who joined Canada's call to arms only to be met with broken promises upon their return. After three quarters of a century of inaction by other Governments, and years negotiating acknowledgement and compensation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Government is the first to keep the promise. With today's act, Canada fully recognizes our Métis Veterans' sacrifices and takes a historic step towards reconciliation."
SOURCE Veterans Affairs Canada
For further information: Media Relations, Veterans Affairs Canada, 613-992-7468, [email protected]; John Embury, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs, [email protected]