OTTAWA, November 8, 2018 – Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence Seamus O’Regan, Minister of National Defence Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett, and Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott today issued the following joint statement to mark Aboriginal Veterans Day:
“On Aboriginal Veterans Day, we honour and remember the First Nations, Inuit and Métis people – past and present – who have served our country with great pride and sacrificed for our freedom.
“Since 1994, Aboriginal Veterans Day has been a way to pay respect to Indigenous peoples for their contributions to our country’s military efforts. By some estimates, more than 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis served during the First and Second World Wars and the Korean War. Their bravery and dedication earned them many military decorations.
“We remember Brigadier Oliver Milton Martin, a Mohawk from Six Nations of the Grand River, who rose to the highest rank ever held by an Indigenous person. He also became the first Indigenous man to be appointed a provincial magistrate in Ontario. Martin — remembered for his commitment to education and Indigenous rights and his distinguished military career —served in the First and Second World Wars.
“We remember Harry Lavallee, a Métis Veteran from Stonewall, Manitoba, who proudly served in the Second World War. Lavallee joined the Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps and went on to fight in Northwest Europe as a rifleman with the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.
“We remember Fredrick Freida, an Inuit hunter and trapper from Labrador who served overseas during the First World War. In 1951, Freida joined the Canadian Rangers—an army reserve force that protects Canada’s sovereignty in remote and northern areas.
“We remember Edith Anderson Monture, a nurse who was born in Six Nations of the Grand River in 1890. After finding few opportunities to become a nurse in Canada, she trained in the United States and subsequently joined the U.S. Medical Corps. Monture was one of 14 Canadian nurses who joined the American Army in 1917 and she tended to many wounded soldiers overseas.
“We remember David Greyeyes, who would go on to become Chief of the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, who served in seven countries during his six years with the Canadian Army during the Second World War. Lieutenant Greyeyes earned the Greek Military Cross for his valour during the Italian campaign.
“First Nations, Inuit and Métis people continue to serve Canada with pride in operations at home and overseas, as they have bravely done for more than two hundred years.
“As we continue to take steps on this shared journey of reconciliation, we remember all of the Indigenous peoples who have given their lives, and we express gratitude to the more than 1,200 Indigenous members in the Canadian Armed Forces who continue to protect our freedom.”